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Samantha Barks on Life After IDA in Cabaret

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Samantha Barks may have lost out on the role of Nancy in the West End musical Oliver, but it has not stopped her working. She is soon to appear at the Lowry in the touring version of Cabaret, Rufus Norris' reworking of the classic, which is coming back to the region less then one year after it last appeared at the Palace Theatre in Manchester.

WOS Northwest caught up with her to discuss life post I'd Anything.

How have you found the audience reactions to
Cabaret why do you think the tour is proving so popular?
The audience reaction has been great. It’s quite a shocking storyline but I think it moves people and gets people thinking and you can see that on the audiences faces at the end. I think the show also has something for everyone. It’s a show of two parts really. There’s the gaucheness and decadence of the nightclub which contrasts with the Nazi uprise and the different effect that has on all the characters, so it really is quite a thought provoking storyline.

You did extremely well on I'd Do Anything. But how disappointed were you to be knocked out at such a late stage?
It was disappointing because the other girls and I worked so hard for it and by the end of it it’s something that we wanted so much. But on another level I wasn’t too disappointed at the time because it was a world full of positives for me. I won’t get to play Nancy but a world of opportunity has been opened up for all of us because we auditioned in front of the nation.  Really the hard work starts there because you’re on your own in the audition and then you’ve got to prove yourself.  There’s a stigma attached to reality TV so you’ve got to be able to hold your own and prove that you can actually do eight shows a week and then hopefully you get a job, which I was lucky enough to get.

Did you ever think you would do as well as you did in the competition?
No, I really did not. My hope was to get through the first day and meet David Grindrod (Casting Director). I thought that would be a great thing to do. I didn’t for one minute think I’d get to the live rounds and was the biggest shock for me when I got through to that. And I definitely did not see myself getting to the final. Week after week I saw these amazingly talented girls getting so far and I’d be thinking ‘Well they definitely can’t go because they’re all so talented’ and that experience was sometimes mind blowing.

How did meeting and being mentored by Liza Minnelli influence your interpretation of Sally Bowles?  
Of course the role of Sally was made so famous by Liza Minnelli and it was amazing to have had a session working on the song "Maybe This Time" with her. So when I’m on stage every night I can’t help but think of the advice she gave me. You can’t mimic Liza because she is so amazing and individual. You have to try and put your own stamp on it and do something a bit different which I hopefully have.

There has been some criticism in the media about your casting in the role due to your young age. How do you respond to the doubters?
When Christopher Isherwood (author of the original story) wrote about the real Sally Bowles she was a 19-year-old who lived with him. With that in mind I think my age is a benefit. In a way Sally is experienced in life and a complete woman but she does have naivety and by turning a blind eye she really didn’t have a clue what was going on in the wider world. My being so close to the age Sally was originally makes it more real. There have been other amazingly talented actresses who have played Sally Bowles who have been much older which also has its benefits because they can play on their life experiences and show Sally as a woman who has seen it all. But I think my young age does have a benefit.

How have you found starring opposite the multi-talented Wayne Sleep, who has done the show before?
I think he is one of the best things about it. He’s so experienced with the show and it helps having that experience behind us. He knows the storyline inside out and has met Christopher Isherwood and many other people associated with the show.

How do you see your career developing after the tour has finished? What would you like to do next?
Well, fingers crossed I can just go out there and get as much experience as possible.Continuing to learn is the key because I’ve got a lot to learn and having learned a lot doing this show I am eager to learn more.I’m going to keep auditioning and hope for the best.

Samantha Barks was talking to Malcolm Wallace

Cabaret runs at the Lowry from Monday 22 until Saturday 27 June.


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