As a leading lady of both London’s West End and Broadway, Rachel Tucker is used to being centre stage but always as part of an ensemble, never before as a solo artist. All that is set to change however, with a thirteen date solo tour around the UK beginning in her home town of Belfast on 13 May. The first date sold out quickly which was, as Rachel said when I interviewed her a month ago, “a real thrill…I don’t get back often so it’s great how quick the tickets went”.
Rachel is probably best known for long running roles in Wicked, having risen to fame as a finalist on the BBC One show I’d Do Anything, subsequently performing at Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Birthday In The Park show in London’s Hyde Park and later taking on a range of roles in some of the West End’s best shows, before making her Broadway debut in The Last Ship, a new musical written by the rock icon Sting.
As an established musical theatre star, I was keen to find out if Rachel’s set list would mostly consist of songs from that genre. Not necessarily so, although Rachel says she was “brought up on old classic Hollywood, Gene Kelly type musicals so there will be some musical songs there”. Rachel went on to say that her own taste is rather more eclectic, a mixture of classic jazz, soul and pop and hopes that at least half the finished set list will be upbeat jazz and soul. It transpires that in preparation for this tour, Rachel has been listening to a lot of music which might not be a surprise for a singer but in fact, she say she doesn’t listen to much music outside the theatre as it’s her job (I totally get that – reviewing music sometimes leaves me in a position to say no more). Choosing a set list seems to be something less than a walk in the park too; Rachel said that she “didn’t realise how hard it would be. After four weeks rehearsal we only just got to the point where we decided what the songs should be and in what order. Some songs are amazing but don’t work amongst the rest of the set and we’re having some guest artists so in some shows the set list will be different”. Those recently announced as guests are Oliver Tompsett (Horsham and Live at Zedel), Samantha Barks (Live at Zedel) and fellow Wicked star Louise Dearman (Bury St. Edmunds).
As this is Rachel’s first excursion into a show where the emphasis is all on her solo performance, I was intrigued to find out how she would deal with possible nerves. Although pressure as a solo performer was mentioned, Rachel was quick to say that doing her own music was “much more satisfying, more thrilling as an artist” as opposed to being part of a show. Additionally, Rachel thought she would feel more nervous than when part of a show, one reason being that in a lot of the venues, the stage is very close to the audience. Having said that, Rachel has been singing in such places since she was a child and says that it makes it easier to “look the audience in the eye and tell a story”.
Rachel Tucker’s tour starts in Belfast on May 13 and continues until June 10 in Birmingham – click here for dates and tickets.
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