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In Profile with Rosa O’Reilly

The world of musical theatre is filled with a wonderful array of all types of shows, from feel-good jukebox musicals and popular film adaptions to long-running classics and brand-new creations. In each of these musical genres are the shows that represent them as the poster childs of how to do it right: Les Miserables is sitting pretty as the queen of the long-runners as it approaches the 30-year mark, while Queen’s We Will Rock You was one of the most successful shows to be based on a iconic back-catalogue of music, and the stage-adaption of the film Dirty Dancing is still going strong today. These musicals all have something else in common, and that is the very talented Rosa O’Reilly, who has appeared in all three shows and more during the course of her career. A star on the rise, she has attracted the attention of the In Profile spotlight and is thus featured in this edition of the regular article series.

Rosa O’Reilly is a graduate of the Southark-based performing arts institution, The London School of Musical Theatre (LSMT), which originated at the Old Vic Theatre back in 1995. LSMT has put some exceptional performers onto the stage over the years, such as Jodie Jacobs (We Will Rock You, Rock of Ages), Richard Meek (Joseph, Rocky Horror Show) and Nancy Sullivan (Les Miserables, Never Forget) – O’Reilly certainly counts as one of the school’s success stories too.

Her first post-graduate job saw her make her West End début, joining the 2008/09 company of We Will Rock You at the Dominion Theatre. She performed as a member of the ensemble team in Ben Elton’s Queen musical, and was also 3rd Cover to the principal role of Meat, which was played by Rachel Tucker at the time. Her cast mates included Ricardo Afonso and Sabrina Aloueche, who led the cast as Galileo and Scaramouche respectively, in addition to Mazz Murray, Alex Bourne, Ian Carlyle, Garry Lake, Brian McCann, and more.

She spent a year in the West End with We Will Rock You before taking to the road in another well-known West End musical. She was cast in the 25th anniversary touring production of Les Miserables, which visited venues all around the UK and included dates at its first home, The Barbican. The show starred John Owen-Jones as Jean Valjean and also featured Earl Carpenter (Javert), Madalena Alberto (Fantine), Rosalind James (Eponine), Katie Hall (Cosette), Jon Robyns (Enjolras) and Gareth Gates (Marius), with O’Reilly playing the ensemble role of Whore and also understudying/playing the principal role of Eponine. She was also involved in the Les Miserables 25th Anniversary Concert at the O2 Arena in 2010 and reprised her Whore role for an appearance in Tom Hooper’s 2012 film adaption of the classic musical.

After the Les Mis Tour, she added to her list of theatre credits with performances as a guest vocalist for numerous cabarets and concerts, including the regularly staged Gigging 4 Good. She was also asked to sing on the studio recording of The Postman and the Poet, as one of the Women of Isla Negro in the role of Maria, alongside former Les Mis tour mate Madalena Alberto (Raffaela) and Matt Harrop, who was recently featured in the ranks of In Profile as well. Other recording credits include performing the original composition ‘Ships That Pass In The Night’ on the début album of singer/songwriter Joe Sterling. Entitled Somewhere In My Mind – The Songs of Joe Sterling, the line-up starred such other West End names as Jonathan Williams, Killian Donnelly, Ashleigh Jones and Kit Orton, among others. The album was released 26th March 2012, and she subsequently attended the Dress Circle album showcase for a live performance of her song, which is from the concept musical, Roundabout, Sterling wrote in collaboration with lyricist Robert Gould.

I was actually there in the studio the day O’Reilly showed up to record the vocals for her song – the same day fellow guest artists Jack Shalloo, Jonathan Eio and Ross Hunter were in. Sat with Gould in the Auburn Jam studio, we had a front-row seat to her recording session and I thoroughly enjoyed being privy to such an up-close-and-personal display of her vocal talents.

In July 2012, she joined the UK Tour of Dirty Dancing. She appeared once again as part of the ensemble, playing the role of Elizabeth as the show travelled all around the country into 2013, before transferring back into the West End. The smash hit musical took up residence at the Piccadilly Theatre in July 2013 following the early closure of the Spice Girls musical, Viva Forever! Rosa returned to the West End with the show, reprising her ensemble role alongside Jill Winternitz as Baby and Paul-Michael Jones as Johnny, and remaining in the company until their final performance there on 22nd February 2014.

Since then, she has performed in an special 20-minute open-air performance of Dirty Dancing which was presented by Sadler’s Wells at Latitude Festival 2014 (Waterfront Stage), been reunited with WWRY cast mate Sabrina Aloueche after being cast as Princess Jasmine in the 2014/15 panto production of Aladdin at the Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury, and recorded a track for composer John Victor’s debut album, Shoot…Bang!, which was released on 9th January 2015. She also found time to run the 10k Race For Life last year, in support of Cancer Research.

Most recently, she travelled to Berlin as one of the 18 former cast members of Les Miserables invited to perform songs from the Boublil and Schonberg musical at Accor Asia Pacific’s ITB VIP Dinner, held at the Sofitel Berlin Gendarmenmarkt. She performed at the annual event alongside such other Les Mis alumni as Earl Carpenter, Daniel Koek, Sophia Ragavelas, Laura Tebbutt, George Miller and Rachel Bingham.

Blessed with a beautiful face and the voice to match it, Rosa O’Reilly is a girl who certainly won’t stay hidden in the ensemble forever. She is a highly talented musical theatre performer and thoroughly deserves to be recognised in In Profile for her contribution to the industry thus far, and for the promise of what she still has to give.

You can follow Rosa on Twitter: @rosaoreilly

By Julie Robinson: @missjulie25

Saturday 11th April 2015

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