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Brief Encounter With … Omar Lye-Fook

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There can't be many internationally-acclaimed-soul-singers-turned-actors. Omar Lye-Fook fits perfectly into this niche. Following his acting debut last year in Che Walker's Been So Long, Lye-Fook is launching his first one-man show in Edinburgh with Lovesong.

Tell us about Lovesong
Basically it's a one man show written for me by Che Walker who wrote Been So Long that I was in last year with the Young Vic. It's a story with music on the keyboards. It's not about me in case you're wondering. The character's name is Oscar; he's a pretty sad character. I'm talk about a couple of his relationships and I basically take you on a journey. So far I've been getting a really good reception from people who've come to see it.

How did the project come about?
It's quite funny. We were in Edinburgh doing the festival with a musical. and I just sit around messing about on keyboards. There were a bunch of guys living in the house together and one of them jokingly suggested to Che that he write me a one-man show. He said: 'alright then'. After the festival I got home and he said 'read you emails'. I checked it and he'd written this 19 page monologue which was completely different to what I'd done previously. In September we wrote the original script and suggested songs of mine that might fit. We held workshops when we'd perform it in front of people and then have question and answers when they told us what they liked and didn't like about it. Until we got to the point when we though it was ready.

How was your first time at the festival?
Fantastic. That was a whole month of fun: every day you could go to any kind of performance you wanted to. There was so much going on that you can't take it all in at once. So it's good to be going back and taking stuff that I maybe couldn't take last year.

How do you cope as a performer keeping everything fresh, especially with all the temptations of the festival?
Funnily enough I think the lifestyle lends itself to the piece, what it's about and what kind of character I'm playing. It fits in really. You don't want to get too wild and get out of control in Edinburgh but I use it to feed the character.

What advice would you give to a younger performer in your position?
I'd say do it, man. Because I've found it's added another string to my bow in terms of being an artist and expressing myself. It's not that far removed from what I was doing anyway: being able to perform in front of people that's what I'm about. But it has a bit of discipline compared to if I was just doing music. I would definitely recommend it.

Is there a noticeable audience change between your pre-theatre work and your debut last year?
Not really. I think it's a crossover. I've been advertising the play and the musical and people who've come to my gigs have come to the show as well. It's not a typical theatre audience who comes to see our productions. So I think we've managed to cross the boundaries in that sense, which is good because if you want new people to check out theatre it's the way to do it.

Can you tell me a little about your ambitions for the future?
Film, TV, the sky's the limit. I'm getting more confident the more is going on, to be able to act in certain roles. My music lends itself very well to film and commercials. It's a broad spectrum of options that are available to me.

Omar Lye-Fook's one man show, Lovesong is at the Pleasance Dome, 4-21 August at 17.20


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