The Christmas treat at the new Turbine Theatre is a series of one-off shows showcasing musical theatre stars in a mix of chat and song performance.

Recently Samantha Barks was announced as London’s Elsa in Frozen when it opens next autumn at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane. She’s played Vivian (very successfully) on Broadway in Pretty Woman, and is just about to play in two Japanese cities as Florence in Chess.

Samantha Barks publicity poster

In conversation with the Turbine’s artistic director, Paul Taylor-Mills, Barks comes across as a confident, likeable, and giggly individual who has remained grounded despite her huge success on stage and screen.

Topics covered included the influence of Barks’s parents, how it feels to play the Hollywood Bowl (where she was Velma in Chicago), singing opera on film, being surprised to be offered the role of Eponine in the Les Miserables film, how Broadway culture is different to the West End, and that the Isle of Man isn’t the Isle of Wight.

The Night Cap format utilises songs which are not necessarily associated with the artist, and it was interesting to hear Barks do a good job on JP Saxe’s If The World Was Ending. On the musical theatre side, she brought the room to an emotional standstill with On My Own and provided an intriguing taster of her Florence in Heaven Help My Heart.

Following Barks and her career since she participated in the search for Nancy in Oliver! on television eleven years ago has been interesting: from supporting roles to leading lady, from the West End to Broadway, and into a variety of films.

Frozen will give her the chance to use her rich voice in a huge, glossy, big-budget production – but what a joy it was to see her singing and chatting close-up and contented, even spilling a bit of Prosecco on her stunning green dress during a quick fire round of questions about likes and dislikes!

Ending the show with Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas sent us all home with a twinkle in our eye and a spring in our step. Welcome back to London, Sam, and don’t stay away too long in the future.

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