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‘I really feel like I’ve bought one of the best job on the planet!’ – Amy Lennox, the knockout star of Cabaret | Musicals

Let’s get one factor straight: though Amy Lennox sings and is Scottish, she will not be associated to Annie Lennox. She is, nevertheless, used to folks making the idea. She laughs, remembering a breakfast radio look from 2016 on which the host saved referring to Annie, considering it was her mum.

“I used to be half-asleep,” she says. “Then the penny dropped and – on reside radio – I mentioned: ‘Oh my God! You assume my mum’s Annie Lennox.’ And the producers behind the glass went – she throws a hand up over her mouth and opens her eyes huge. “Everybody was flapping. I believed, ‘I’m going to allow you to sit on this. You deserve it.’” She laughs once more. Certain, each Lennoxes are from Aberdeen. However Amy’s journey – from belting out Christina Aguilera and Whitney Houston songs in her bed room to the West Finish – had nothing to do with nepotism.

There may be one legacy she has to reside as much as, although: she is following Jessie Buckley’s Olivier-winning flip as Cabaret showgirl Sally Bowles in Rebecca Frecknall’s dynamic staging of the traditional Sixties musical. Buckley and her Emcee, performed by Eddie Redmayne, stepped apart in March for Lennox and Fra Charge, who’s from Northern Eire. Lennox wouldn’t usually step into a task first solid for an additional actor. “I don’t need to be put in a stifling place the place I’m being instructed, ‘Stand right here, do it like this’ – fairly than originating a musical. It’s not how I work. It doesn’t get one of the best of anybody. I used to be all the time adamant about that.” A breath. “After which I believed, ‘Effectively, this does really feel totally different.’”

Sleepwalking towards horror … Lennox as Bowles with Fra Fee’s Emcee.Sleepwalking in the direction of horror … Lennox as Bowles with Fra Charge’s Emcee. {Photograph}: Marc Brenner

Lennox is outspoken, chatty, keen on a giggle and sharing an opinion. We’re sitting within the bowels of London’s Playhouse theatre, to speak about how Frecknall (“Frecks” to Lennox) managed to influence the star to take a recasting and propel her additional into the highlight. Lennox could not but be a giant identify. However for the previous 14 years she’s been in musicals, performs and on TV (she bowed out of Holby Metropolis earlier this yr). Her cheeky, lascivious Bowles is sort of a jolt of electrical energy, and little doubt an indication of nice issues to come back. How daunting was it to take over from Buckley? “Are you aware what? I didn’t actually have a lot time to consider it.” Her casting was confirmed, she says, after which “we began the next week. It was so quick.”

Lennox and Charge beforehand shared a stage in Belfast for 2015’s The Final 5 Years, a two-hander musical charting the breakdown of a relationship. Cabaret was a totally totally different expertise, provided that Bowles and the Emcee barely work together. “We hardly noticed one another within the rehearsal interval,” she says. “It was very, very odd. I’d stumble upon Fra – and we have been like passing ships. Bumping into him in Pret, I’d be like, ‘How was your week?’”

They’re each leads, although. It’s simply that every speaks to a specific facet of the story’s descent in the direction of antisemitism and authoritarianism. Fra’s Emcee lulls you right into a false sense of safety, earlier than slapping you throughout the face – look, Nazis! – and unravelling the freewheeling, booze-soaked world you’d come to know. Lennox’s Bowles, in the meantime, blows by like a hurricane. She’s preening and cooing one second, wearing pink frou-frou taffeta for Don’t Inform Mama, then roaring by the title tune the subsequent, dishevelled and searching swamped in a person’s swimsuit.

Off stage, I can see hints of Bowles’s frenetic drive in Lennox: the way in which she cracks herself up, gushes about her colleagues, and describes the breathlessness of her half. On the finish of each efficiency, she says, “I simply get spat out. It’s like a wipeout from flumes. Simply” – she makes the sound of one thing taking pictures from a tube – “out! You’re carried out. I’m not having to conjure it as a result of the present itself takes me there. It’s relentless.”

Lennox has constructed her stamina up over years, after falling in love with musicals on the age of 11. She remembers watching a TV documentary. “Correct stagey children from London,” she says. They have been perhaps auditioning for Annie (she makes a retching sound). “And I believed, ‘Oh, what’s this?’” She wasn’t a baby with pushy stage dad and mom, although. Her mum was a solicitor, her dad the top of IT and communications for an oil agency. She had rebelled towards ballet (mum’s concept) and singing (dad’s) earlier than discovering her solution to musicals.

Amy Lennox in rehearsal for Kinky Boots in 2015.Olivier nomination … Lennox in rehearsal for Kinky Boots in 2015. {Photograph}: Tristram Kenton/The Guardian

“You don’t get that native alternative that youngsters down within the south-east of England take as a right – as a result of they’re so near this hub that we’re in now.” She motions to the West Finish above our heads. “I didn’t have any of that.” In Aberdeen, all of it felt “so distant that you simply don’t actually have hyperlinks”. Envy propelled her, although. After seeing these kids on TV, after which failing an audition for the college musical, she joined a neighborhood am-dram group and was quickly honing her appearing and singing.

“I auditioned for the Nationwide Youth Music Theatre a great deal of instances. I bought recalled. By no means bought in. My poor dad would fly with me right down to London. And I by no means bought in. It was all the time as a result of I might get to a tune and panic.” Over time, she realized to take cost of her voice, touchdown Liesl in The Sound of Music on the London Palladium proper out of drama faculty in Guildford. She’s since obtained an Olivier nomination for her Lauren in 2015’s Kinky Boots, plus stage credit in 9 to five The Musical, Lazarus, Legally Blonde and others.

A prop newspaper we use has the headline: ‘Russian invasion imminent’

When she began out, Lennox was typically instructed she wasn’t enjoying roles “sufficiently big”, as if solely an exaggerated efficiency would resonate. However in one in all her quieter moments in Cabaret, her Bowles expresses an apathy about her state of affairs – sleepwalking into horror – that strikes a brutal chord right this moment. “Politics,” her Sally asks, “what’s that to do with me?” “It’s bonkers. I don’t assume [Cabaret’s writers John Kander and Fred Ebb] ever supposed for it to really feel so legitimate now. We wish to assume, as human beings on this society, we’re always shifting ahead, striving for excellence and this and that. However we’re not! If something, we’re simply driving ourselves in the direction of absolute catastrophe and everyone knows it,” Lennox says.

She alludes to every little thing from deluded strongmen to the conflict in Ukraine, from reproductive rights for girls to the final acceptance of a future extra bleak than the latest previous. “It’s like Groundhog Day – and there are fairly a couple of moments within the present that do this,” she says. “There was a prop newspaper we have been utilizing and it mentioned, ‘Russian invasion imminent’. And also you go: ‘Oh God. Oh God. What the hell’s happening?’ We’ve bought one other Hitler over there. Some man that’s ” She stops herself. “I’d have an interest to understand how far more of an edge this present has due to what’s happening in Ukraine and in Russia. It’s simply chilling. Completely chilling.”

Lennox as Elly in Lazarus by David Bowie and Enda Walsh, directed by Ivo van Hove, in 2016.Lennox as Elly in Lazarus by David Bowie and Enda Walsh, directed by Ivo van Hove, in 2016. {Photograph}: Tristram Kenton/The Guardian

Past the present’s depiction of fascism’s creeping rise, we focus on theatre’s post-lockdown stumble again into the sunshine. Shortly earlier than we communicate, among the solid of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s high-budget Cinderella came upon that their jobs have been to be minimize quick, some through social media. “I feel that’s deplorable,” says Lennox. “We’ve all been pushed to our limits [by the pandemic]. I don’t know the ins and outs of what occurred. However didn’t somebody take into account, for a second, the repercussions of the way in which it was handled?” (The Actually Helpful Group mentioned it had made “each effort” to make sure solid members have been notified of the the closure.)

She takes a breath, rising sunnier. “It’s a loopy previous thankless existence for thus many individuals. I’m grateful. I really feel like I’ve bought one of the best job within the West Finish. Perhaps even the world.” She laughs once more. Bowles has taken over her life for the previous couple of months – a lot in order that, on some days, Lennox has to chorus from chatting with protect her voice, which makes for silent commutes again to Ramsgate from London along with her husband, actor Tom Andrew Hargreaves.

There’s now an indication on her dressing room door, made by her colleagues after she’d been actually drained in the beginning of her run. “You understand the road once I’ve bought my gin and I say, ‘I’m simply not talking right this moment.’” She laughs. “I’ve bought an ‘I’m simply not talking right this moment’ signal on my door. I’ve solely carried out that when. I’ve solely not spoken as soon as.” She laughs once more. “It’s very arduous. I’m not excellent at it.”

Cabaret on the Package Kat Membership is reserving on the Playhouse theatre, London, till 1 October.

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