LUCY O’Byrne has joined the cast of Little Miss Sunshine just in time for the musical’s visit to Woking – and she can’t wait to go on stage.
“I’ve fallen in love with this quicker than I have with any other job,” says the former runner-up on TV’s The Voice. “I think it just has so much heart. The highs and lows they hit on this journey are so over the top it becomes crazy.
“Just when you think it can’t get any worse, something else comes along. But through it all they keep a humour among them. That is so true to real family life.”
Little Miss Sunshine is based on the hit film of the same name which sees the quirky Hoover family on a road trip across the USA for the daughter to take part in the Little Miss Sunshine contest.
“It centres on Olive Hoover, a 10-year-old girl who desperately wants to be a beauty queen,” explains Lucy, who plays the family matriarch Sheryl. “She’s not what you’d expect from a child pageant wannabe – she’s her own person.
“The show is about how her dysfunctional family manages to get themselves 800 miles across the US in their grandfather’s old campervan – having to push it most of the way – in time for a pageant she really wants to compete in.
“It’s about how everybody’s love for Olive, and their desire to do anything and everything they can for her to get her to this pageant, brings them together as a family.”
Central to that is Sheryl, and Lucy says of her character: “She keeps everyone going, which is the beautiful thing about her. There’s never a moment when she’s going to give up and she doesn’t let anybody else either. She’s doing her best.”
Adding music to a classic movie and staging a road trip on stage might not sound like it would work, but Lucy says: “The film is perfect. It’s beautiful. But the musical just grabs you straight away. The music is gorgeous. The songs are hilarious.
“I think seeing it live lifts the story in a very special way because they’re there in front of you. They’re real people. You’re with them. You get sucked in and brought along on this journey.”
Lucy has been on her own journey since performing on The Voice in 2015.
“I had the time of my life,” she recalls. “I didn’t ever want it to end. I was working with incredible people, people at the top of their game in the TV and music industry.
“Watching a live TV show being made, and being part of it, was one of the most exciting things I think I’ll ever do in my life. And I was addicted to it from the very first live show.
“It wasn’t even that I wanted to win, I just wanted to be there for all the excitement of being on the floor when the cameras are moving around. Money couldn’t buy the opportunity we were being given. I remember will.i.am saying to us once, ‘Do you have any idea how much it would cost me if I wanted a 15-minute prime time Saturday night television slot on the BBC with all of this production crew – I couldn’t afford this, you’re being given it for free.’
“I’ll never forget that, because it made me take every little bit of it in and think ‘This is incredible’ every time I stood on that stage.”
Now Lucy is heading for the stage at Woking’s New Victoria Theatre to perform Little Miss Sunshine from Tuesday 25 June until Saturday 29 June. The show also features former Emmerdale, Coronation Street and Holby City star Mark Moraghan as Grandpa.