Former chart-topping singer Lyn Paul makes a welcome return to the iconic role of Mrs Johnstone in Blood Brothers, one she first played in 1997.
Since then she has starred in the UK tour of Cabaret in 2013 as Fraulein Schneider, in Boy George’s musical Taboo and in Footloose - the Musical.
Lyn, who found fame as a member of The New Seekers in the Seventies and latterly in TV soap Emmerdale, talks about playing the part which took her from a cabaret singer to a musical theatre star! Q. You played the role of Mrs Johnstone from 1997 right up until 2000, then revised it in 2008 and then again in 2012 for the final two weeks of its West End run – fair to say it’s your ultimate role? A. Without a shadow of a doubt! Mrs J is just me. Everything that she’s going through I feel, the way Willy’s (Russell) written it is so easy to get over to an audience.
Q. This must have been a huge factor when accepting the role again for the 2016 tour? A. When I first played Mrs J, I was doing cabaret. I wrote to Bill (Kenwright) and asked him if he would consider me for the role of Mrs J, he sent me a letter back by return post, and less than three weeks later I was waiting on the stage at the Phoenix Theatre (West End) to start rehearsals. I’d never acted and I thought, ‘Oh my God, I can’t do this!’ But Bill showed so much faith in me that I will always go back.
Q. So it was a chance letter that changed your life?
A. Yes, I also knew Carl Wayne, who was the Narrator at that point, and he came to see me in a cabaret show and suggested for me to audition for Mrs Johnstone, even though I’d never acted and wasn’t Liverpudlian. I told my mum and she said ‘Oh Bill Kenwright, he’s a very nice man’. I said, ‘how do you know, you’ve never met him’, and she said ‘well I’ve seen him interviewed and he’s a very nice man, write to him!’ So I did and two days later I got a return letter saying ‘Don’t worry about the Liverpudlian accent love, we’ll sort that, you don’t need one, you’re a northerner, and I’d love to see you’. And that was it.
Q. So you can boast a pop career, a musical theatre career and television too! What have been your highlights so far?
A. There are so many, I’ve had a very charmed career. And although I’ve had lots of bad times, I’ve had some incredible highs too. But Blood Brothers has to be the highlight. Not necessarily because of the show, but because of what it led to. Bill introduced me to my agent, who then put me into Emmerdale.
Q. Blood Brothers is a very moving show, do you ever get letters from the audience?
A. I got a letter from a woman who had a son who was in jail. She said she sat watching it and it was the only time she’d ever seen anybody portray on stage a jail sequence that is exactly as it is. She said that she cried and cried.
l Blood Brothers runs at Buxton Opera House from March 7 to 12. Tickets £15 to £38. Call 01298 72190 or visit buxtonoperahouse.org.uk