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Lucy Barker On ... Her West End Awakening

Sixteen-year-old Lucy Barker was studying for her A levels when she landed the role of Ilse in alt-rock musical Spring Awakening, which marks her professional stage debut. The UK premiere production opened at the Lyric Hammersmith on 3 February (previews from 23 January), and recently transferred to the West End\'s Novello Theatre.

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When I was 14, I sent a letter to casting director Pippa Ailion’s office asking for work experience, and I included a short singing demo. I didn\'t hear anything until a year later when I got a phone call from her assistant saying “we\'ve got an audition coming up for Spring Awakening, you should come along”. So I went along and it was just Pippa and a pianist – I sang a Kelly Clarkson song, always a winner! - and she called me back. I went through 11 auditions in total, including the final weekend workshop audition, where we met the people we were up against. It was very scary, because suddenly you had a mini audience watching you.

I remember the day I found out. It was a Friday afternoon and I was three weeks into my A levels, and I\'d finished my classes for the day so I went home to wait for the call. I literally sat motionless for ten minutes watching the phone, until finally the call flashed up. I didn\'t want my mum to see me if I didn\'t get it so I walked up the stairs and answered it. The lady told me I was in and I just screamed and cried for about five minutes. A bit dramatic maybe, but I did – it was the most incredible feeling. I have a friend who was a huge fan of the show since it opened on Broadway, and when I told him the news we both just burst into tears!

As cliché as it sounds, I\'m living the dream. It really hit me when we transferred to the Novello and I got the tube in to Covent Garden and thought \'wow, I\'m going to be getting off here hopefully for the next year of my life\', and it was a strange feeling, because that was where I used to go once a year to see West End shows. I\'ve still got the signed programmes!

After the first night of previews, the stage door was absolutely crazy, the street was literally full of people. I think the boys have been quite surprised by the female attention – it\'s so funny watching their faces when they\'ve got 20 girls screaming for them! At the Lyric we used to go to the bar rather than the stage door, which was great because we got to meet the audience and get their feedback. It\'s been nice to see a few familiar faces coming back regularly. One couple flew over from America having seen it 92 times on Broadway! 92 times to see the same show – incredible. Like a lot of Americans, they said the loved the British accents, because they\'re more suited to the classic text.

It\'s very tiring because we want to give 100 percent to every show – I end up sleeping in till about 2pm most days. It\'s a bit bizarre having your breakfast that late in the day, all of our body clocks have been completely altered. I\'ve also had to grow up very fast – living away from my parents is a big adjustment so I\'m going through experiences most people have when they\'re nearer 20. I\'ve suddenly been thrust into a world of rent, tax and medical insurance!

When I finish this, obviously I would love to continue working. I think I’ll probably go and train, or I might go back and do my A-levels or I could just carry on auditioning. I think fate will probably decide for me. But whatever happens, Spring Awakening will always have a special place in my heart.

Spring Awakening, which also stars Charlotte Wakefield, Iwan Rheon and Aneurin Barnard, is currently booking at the Novello to 31 October 2009.


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