Singer Sam Lavery, who shot to fame in 2016’s X-Factor, chats to Quays Life about making her stage debut in the hit Green Day rock musical American Idiot.
What attracted you to the show?
Theatre is something I’ve always been interested in, but I’ve concentrated on music since X-Factor. When I heard about the show, I thought this role would be a perfect fit, especially as my first role. I jumped in with two feet and I’ve learned so much from it because it’s a completely different kettle of fish from what I’ve done before.
What is it about your character, Whatsername, that you connected with?
The character has got so many layers. She’s a powerful female in a situation that everyone’s been through where a partner is not putting her first and deciding, ‘Do I choose you or something else?’ This show is a rollercoaster of emotions and it gives me a chance to explore the different sides of her personality.
The show deals with some really tough issues too…
It does. It’s completely different to anything I’ve ever seen before. I think what’s important is we’ve all worked together to research and look at the intention of every single line of every single song. We aren’t just singing or acting on a whim, we’ve really researched the facts of it. We want it to be as truthful as possible.
Has anything surprised you about the show?
I was surprised by how emotional it is. When I do gigs, I get emotional with songs, but this is different. Even when we’re in the wings, some of us will start crying because you get drawn in by it. In the show, I sing Letterbomb. That song’s full of rage. I come off stage after that and I am absolutely raging. I’m angry. The emotion stays with me.
What do you think might surprise audiences about the show?
I think they’ll be really surprised at the energy of it. There’s not a lot of dialogue. It’s really just music and telling the story through emotion. It’s really different. It’s something I would definitely see with a group of my friends. I think that’s really important because a lot of people my age or younger wouldn’t necessarily go to the theatre.
Waterloo Road actor and The Voice contestant Tom Milner plays Johnny. How’s working with him?
We get on so well. Tom and I have got some really intense, personal scenes together, but he’s been the easiest person to work with. That’s made all the difference, because those scenes now aren’t awkward.
Are you excited about touring the show?
I am! We’re going to loads of places I haven’t been before, and every place you go to you get different reactions from different audiences. I love touring and I’m lucky that I’m doing it with a great group of people as well.
What do you think makes live performance so exciting?
I think the general energy in the room, the atmosphere from beginning to end. With American Idiot, you go from a full-out, big-energy rock song to it being deadly silent and watching someone in a state of mind in which they have no idea where they want to go with their lives. It’s so intense. I don’t think you can get that from watching a film, not to that level.
How did you get into performing?
When we were in primary school, we went on a school trip and there was a little talent show on the last day. All the girls were dancing and all the boys were doing whatever. I don’t know why, but I got up and sang a song. From there I’ve never stopped singing.
What was it like to appear on X Factor?
It was very intense, but also exciting. I was 16 / 17 when I was on the show and there were others younger and older than me who didn’t deal with it as well. I wanted to enjoy it, take it for what it was, take everything I could out of it and learn from it. I didn’t wish it away. I didn’t want to be at home. When I came off the show I knew I needed to work and build from it, which is what I’ve done.
Finally, what can audiences expect from a trip to see American Idiot?
So much energy and so many emotions. It’s a really intense show. You’ll come away from it and feel you’ve experienced every part of the story yourself.
American Idiot is at Manchester’s Palace Theatre from 2-6 April 2019. See website for details.
Read our interview with co-star Luke Friend.
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