Former X Factor finalist Niki Evans returns to the iconic role of Mrs Johnstone as smash-hit musical Blood Brothers comes to York.
Blood Brothers is at the Grand Opera House York from Tuesday 5 to Saturday 9 April.
Niki Evans first rose to fame in 2007 when she reached the semi-final of series four of The X Factor UK, mentored by Louis Walsh.
She first joined Blood Brothers in London’s West End in 2008, and has also starred in UK tours of shows such as Kinky Boots and Legally Blonde – and has even performed for the queen!
In 2016, Niki performed at the Queen’s 90th celebrations at Windsor Castle alongside Dame Helen Mirren, Damien Lewis, Andrea Boccelli, Katherine Jenkins, Kylie Minogue and many more.
Blood Brothers begins at the Grand Opera House tonight (Tuesday). Tickets are available via the Grand Opera House website and start from £13.
Q&A with Niki Evans
The tour calls at Grand Opera House York. Does it have any significance for you?
One time I was in York they took me to the Dungeon on my own and I’ve never screamed so loud. I don’t know how I managed to do the show that night, I screamed so much. I won’t be going back to the Dungeon but York is a beautiful town.
When did you last play Mrs Johnstone and how is it returning to the show?
I last played her in 2012 and returning to it was scary at first. The first time I did it I’d never done a musical or been a part of the theatre world so when [producer] Bill Kenwright called me I think I turned it down four times. I was like ‘No, you’re OK!’ but he persuaded me to audition. He saw something in me and within a week I was on stage. It was such a whirlwind. Since then, I’ve done lots of other roles, mainly funny ones, so to come back to such a dramatic role is very scary but it’s like a dream come true.
What makes her such an iconic musical theatre role?
It’s because of her strength and the emotions you have to go through when you’re on stage. She starts as a young girl in her 20s, then within 20 minutes she’s got seven kids and has to give one away. It’s a big part and it’s a big part for a woman, which is rare at my age. She’s a strong female lead and every mother in this country can relate to her on some level because of how real she is.
You made the top four on X Factor in 2007. How did doing that show change your life?
Completely. It’s given me a career I didn’t think I was capable of, although it did eventually break up my marriage because I was never there. My life since X Factor couldn’t be more different. My kids didn’t even know I sang because I’d given it up. So much has happened in the past 15 years career-wise and I’ve got a partner and I’m getting married soon, which is very exciting.
Singing at Windsor Castle for the Queen’s 90th birthday celebrations must have been another highlight?
I thought they were taking the Mick at first! When I realised it was real I was like, ‘Oh my days!’ and I cannot tell you what an honour and a privilege it was. I’d never sung with an orchestra before and my heart thumped when I went on. I was so nervous when I met The Queen I called her ‘Your Honour’ instead of ‘Your Highness’.