WISHAW performer Natalie Williams has landed the biggest role of her stage career so far.
The Waterloo star will understudy Connie Fisher – winner of Andrew Lloyd Webber's television quest to find Maria for The Sound of Music – in the lead role in a major new musical production.
The show, Wonderful Town, starts at the end of March in Manchester's Lowry Theatre, complete with the 65-piece world famous Hallé Orchestra, conducted by Sir Mark Elder and directed by legendary theatre impresario Braham Murray OBE.
“It’s a huge thrill to be involved in a show like this, working with some of the biggest and best names in the business,” said a delighted Natalie, whose stage name is Natalie Moore-Williams.
“This is the first time I have been understudy to the lead performer and I can't wait for rehearsals to be over and get out there every night in front of the audience.
“It’s a real feather in my cap to have been chosen for this part because more than 500 girls auditioned for the show and there are only nine female places in the whole cast. To be selected, not only as one of the nine, but as understudy to the lead made me really proud.”
The show contains music by Leonard Bernstein, who is best known for writing the songs for West Side Story, and tells the tale of two sisters, Ruth and Eileen, who leave their home in the backwoods of Ohio and head for the bright lights of New York.
The girls meet a number of colourful characters along the way, creating chaos at every turn in their search for romance, success and a free meal at Walgreens deli.
“It’s a really zany story, with fantastic songs and extrovert dance sequences, and I'm sure it will be huge hit with audiences wherever we go,” added Natalie.
“Wonderful Town isn’t one of the better known musicals but, hopefully, we can change that by the end of the run. It won five Tony Awards when it was last staged on Broadway in 2004, so it is clearly a quality production.”
After a four-week spell at The Lowry, the production takes to the road and among the venues it will visit is the King’s Theatre in Glasgow.
“This is the first production I’ve been involved in which is coming to the King’s and I’m expecting that to be one of the highlights for me because my family and friends will have the chance to see one of my shows on their own doorstep for a change,” said Natalie, who now lives in London.
“In the past, they have always had to travel quite some distance – some even came to Europe to see me – and I’ve really appreciated the support and effort people have made over the years.
As well as Glasgow, the tour takes in Birmingham, Newcastle, Sheffield, Southampton, Plymouth and Nottingham among other venues before completing its run at The Millennium Theatre, Cardiff, in July.
Natalie has also just recently completed a 16-month tour of Europe with the Bill Kenwright/Andrew Lloyd Webber production of Evita, which visited countries such as Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Turkey.
Wonderful Town comes to the King’s Theatre in Glasgow on Tuesday, May 8, until Saturday, May 12. For more information and to book tickets, contact the King’s Theatre box office on 0844 871 7627 or visit www.atgtickets.com