'I Devoured This Play In One Session'
Musical star Natasha Barnes on her new role in the Tabard Theatre's revival of Tryst
What happened to Natasha Barnes is the stuff of showbiz fairytale. The young understudy to Sheridan Smith was called upon to play the lead role in Funny Girl last year. Thrust into the spotlight, she was hailed as a star.
The Daily Telegraph called her “a sensation in her own right… She has a charisma and twinkling mischief that’s irresistible’” and from The Daily Mail, came the praise for “An exceptional lead performance”.
Since then Hampshire-born Natasha (28) has taken on the title role in the Palladium’s all-star Cinderella at Christmas with Paul O Grady and a major UK and Ireland tour of Funny Girl , reprising the role of Fanny Brice which catapulted her into the limelight.
But Natasha has turned her back (temporarily ) on the bright lights of the West End, in favour of Chiswick to star in the Tabard Theatre's revival of the thriller Tryst by Karoline Leach. Directed by Phoebe Barran, Tryst will play from 12 October to 5 November, 2017.
During a break in rehearsals she explains how it came about.
"The casting director is a friend of mine and I was coming to the end of a tour and when I read the script, I absolutely fell in love with it. I've always been in musical theatre, and I just wanted to get into a different medium and this play seems like the pefect thing. Its just me and one other actor ( Fred Perry), and its a bit of a challenge and another way that I can push myself in a new direction."
Tryst will be the first show at the theatre since the venue was taken over by new management and given a full refurbishment. Based on a true story, this tense drama tells of serial fraudster, George Love, who encounters a naïve and vulnerable shop-girl, Adelaide Pinchin.
Natasha said, “I read, or devoured, Tryst in one sitting and knew straight away I wanted to be a part of it. After learning so much taking over the lead in Funny Girl at The Savoy, I knew I would want my next project to be something really challenging. I’m not frightened of making myself vulnerable and I feel a straight play with such a small cast will be so different to what I’ve been doing recently and so exciting. I am a massive advocate for seeing the work of more female directors and I can’t wait to see what Phoebe will bring to the piece.”
Natasha got her first paid acting gig when she was just 10-years-old in a radio version of Alice Through the Looking Glass. Growing up, the only training she had was at a local theatre school in Bournemouth, about 20 minutes from her family home. Judy Garland and Imelda Staunton are her biggest inspiration. She also played the role of Anne Frank in a local production when she was aged thirteen. Her father, who had appeared in student amateur drama took over the role of Otto Frank when the cast member became ill and he was "really good". She reckons that she gets her acting talent from her father.
"I was going to apply for drama school after A levels and I went to audition for new musical - it was Spring Awakening at the Lyric Theatre, and I went into it for the experience, but after that it's been full steam ahead and I just kept going.
"I love the stage, I love live theatre and its great to get so much stage time that you become close to an audiance and really get a feeling for what they are experiencing."
She has also taken on some television work (Doc Martin) but revels in the live experience of theatre. After the excitement of appearing on West End stages, the transition to a small theatre in Chiswick will be a new experience.
"I think that not just pub theatre but also fringe theatre is crucial to the industry. There are so many good plays out there that get their first outing in a small theatre. Tryst is a beautifully written play, I had never heard of as it hadn't been performed for so long in London, although it was staged in America, so now we have this spring board to really get to know an audiance in a small theatre like the Tabard."
And her talent as a singer has been spotted by Sony, having been spotted while performing in Funny Girl, they invited Natasha to record an album of her favourite music, which she describes as her version of Northern Soul classics.Natasha’s debut single Supermodel, was released on the 8 September ahead of a debut album in the New Year?
Tryst premiered in the West End in 1997 starring Paul Nicholas and Susan Penhaligon, before opening on Broadway in 2006.
The cast also features Fred Perry of the Tabard Theatre, who said that they had been hoping to get the rights to the play for a long time.
Says Fred, "I've been in the world of theatre for a long time but it's quite a long time since I've appeared on stage. I'm delighted we have this play- with Phoebe as a brilliant director, and that we've got Tryst as the opening show of the season after the refurbishment makes it very exciting".
September 30, 2017