In Profile with Nicky Swift from the cast of Les Miserables

The 2014 Olivier Awards are taking place this Sunday, and theatre fans will be following them avidly to find out which shows from the past year will be honoured with one (or hopefully more) of those coveted statuettes.

The productions and individuals up for an award will have been nominated in any number of the various categories that feature as part of the Oliviers, which includes the BBC Radio 2 Audience Award. This category allows audiences the chance to pay tribute to their favourite long-running West End show as it is the only award voted for by the theatre-going public. Nominated in this year’s Oliviers are Wicked, The Phantom of the Opera, Matilda The Musical and Les Miserables.

The latter will come as no surprise to anyone. Les Miserables is the longest running musical in the West End and remains one of the most popular shows in town in its record breaking 29th year. Cameron Mackintosh’s epic musical won the BBC Radio 2 Audience Awards at the 2012 Olivier Awards, an achievement which the show’s current company would no doubt be delighted to see realised again at this year’s event. Every member of the cast plays their part in transporting the audience to revolutionary France with every performance, from the brilliant principal actors to the talented ensemble team. Nicky Swift has been playing her part for nearly 2 years now, and her valued contribution to the show has led to her becoming the featured ensemble member for this week’s edition of In Profile.

Nicky Swift is a wonderful performer who has been lighting up the stage of the Queen’s Theatre since she joined the West End production of Les Miserables in 2012. Originating from Aughton, Lancashire, the Northern songbird dreamed of a life on the stage from a young age and has worked hard to make that dream a reality. She was a member of the National Youth Music Theatre (NYMT) between 1993 and 2001 and was involved in numerous original productions with the leading company for young people, such as Warchild, Creation and Whistle Down The Wind. Other early roles include playing Sniffer in Anne Dalton’s stage musical Her Benny in Liverpool, Mrs Berling in An Inspector Calls and Crystal in Little Shop of Horrors. She was also seen in the national tour of the musical David Copperfield , which was adapted from the Charles Dickens novel of the same name.

She attended Birmingham University and gained a Bachelor of Music before being accepted at the Royal Academy of Music (RAM), one of the oldest and most prestigious schools in the UK. A wealth of talent has emerged from there over the years, including such former Les Miserables cast members as Rosemary Ashe and Fra Fee. During her training at RAM, Swift appeared in a number of productions, including playing the roles of Felicity in Haebeus Corpus and Oolie in City of Angels.

After she graduated from the Musical Theatre course at RAM, where she was the recipient of the Ian Fleming Musical Theatre Award and the LRAM, she concentrated her efforts on adding to the existing list of theatre credits already attached to her name. She has worked extensively at the Liverpool Everyman Theatre, appearing in their seasonal productions over the course of many years. She played Nelly Salt (Fairy) in Jack and The Beanstalk, Fairy in Aladdin, Fairy Feathers in Mother Goose, Fairy Lights in Dick Whittington and Milly Moon Beam in Sleeping Beauty. She has also been a guest artist in various theatrical-based events, including performing as a Jingle Babe at A Broadway Diva Christmas at the Off-Broadway Julia Miles Theatre in New York. She sung as a soprano soloist in Musical Express and was the leading vocalist in the cabaret Viva Diva Voce , which was staged in a selection of UK fringe venues. She also took part in the rehearsed reading of Achilles In Heels, written by Mark Bunyan. It took place through MMD at the Jerwood Studios in May 2005, with Swift part of the cast which also featured Pippa Duffy, Helen French, Duncan Patrick and Richard Hartley. The show went on to run at the Landor Theatre in 2006.

2010 was a good year for her. She undertook several different roles in 2010, first appearing as Vi Petty in the original fringe production of Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story. Staged in the North London venue of Highgate’s Upstairs at the Gatehouse, she performed alongside the likes of Roger Rowley, Jos Slovick, Jason Blackwater and Deanna Farnell as part of the actor/musician cast in this acclaimed production directed by John Clews. Following that, she played Red Queen/Sister in Alice In The Walled Garden and starred in the biopic of The Beatles iconic band member John Lennon. She played his first wife Cynthia Lennon in Bob Eaton’s musical at the Royal Court Theatre in Liverpool, which was led by Andrew Schofield (Older Lennon) and Daniel Healy (Younger Lennon) and received highly positive reviews.

Swift then found her sea legs as part of the Queen Elizabeth Theatre Company which created theatrical shows for Cunard Line’s new ship, The Queen Elizabeth. She played Olivia/Andrew in Twelfth Night and Olive in Odd Couple aboard the ship, before returning to dry land to make her West End debut.

She auditioned for Les Miserables with a cockney rendition of the song ‘Life With Harold’ from the musical The Full Monty and was offered a place in the ensemble team as part of the classic West End show. She joined the production in June 2012, appearing onstage in her ensemble role of Madame and also as 1st cover to the principal role of Madame Thernadier. She has played the villainous wife of innkeeper Thernadier on numerous occasions and made her last official appearance in the role on 9th April. She is due to leave the production at the end of May this year.

Nicky Swift has come a long way from the times of entertaining people in the street as a singing iPod. She now has many accomplishments to her name, including being a competitor in the Radio 2 Voice of Musical Theatre contest in Cardiff, and has made a very welcome addition to the West End during her time here. One can only hope this is not the last London audiences see of her. She has previously spoken of a desire to play the roles of the Baker’s Wife in Into The Woods and Mrs Johnstone in Blood Brothers, and perhaps one day she will – hopefully in the West End. Following Les Miserables, she is set to appear in Lennon once again, which returns for another run as part of the new season at the Royal Court Theatre. What lies ahead for this talented stage performer after that… who knows.

By Julie Robinson @missjulie25

You can follow Nicky on Twitter: @nickyswifto

Nicky also has a fan page on Twitter: @NSwiftFanpage

Saturday 10th April 2014

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