Lucy Kay has found that success has been the best way to show up those who bullied her at school.
Classically trained singer Lucy was the runner-up in the 2014 series of Britain’s Got Talent, but is currently starring as The Narrator in the hit musical Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
And she’s found that her own experiences have helped her relate to the story of the Biblically inspired musical.
‘There’s a little girl in the choir of the show who’s being bullied at school. She messaged me on my Facebook page, and said I was her inspiration. So I chatted with her and gave her the links to the Diana Award – the anti-bullying charity I’m an ambassador for.
‘I told her when she’s on stage to listen to the words that are being sung through Joseph. It’s not until I thought about the story that I realised it’s about bullying – his brothers are jealous of his talents and he’s favoured by their father, so they hurt him and sell him off. But he comes out on top because he didn’t let that defeat him and in the end they ask for forgiveness and he’s big enough to accept that.
‘In a weird way it can relate to those of us who went through bullying at school. It tells us to be positive.
If you have a dream, keep that, keep going for it. That’s the thing that got me through it all, my love for singing. I never, ever stoppedLucy Kay
‘If you have a dream, keep that, keep going for it. That’s the thing that got me through it all, my love for singing. I never, ever stopped. It was a sanctuary for me and gave me an inner strength.
‘It’s nice to walk on that stage and know that I came out the other side in the best way I could and prove everyone who bullied me wrong.’
Lucy is joined in the show by former X Factor winner Joe McElderry in the title role. The pair came straight out of different pantos and in to the Joseph tour, where they’re doing 10 shows a week, with three on Saturdays.
‘I’ve never done anything like this,’ says Lucy. ‘I’ve never worked so hard in my life, but it’s good fun.
‘Last year was my first time in musical theatre, so it’s nice to be back – I know better what I’m doing, I know where to place things in my voice and the different technique.
‘It’s very demanding though – much more demanding than opera because I’ve been doing that since I was seven and my body’s accustomed to that. ‘Musical theatre is a completely different game, and I’m finding I’m having to look after my voice a lot more and working to maintain my stamina.’
However, Lucy tells how this might never have happened for her, as she thought she’d blown her BGT audition. ‘I was originally down to sing Queen’s Who Want’s To live Forever, and it was in such a low key, but that was what they wanted. I asked if I could sing something else I’m comfortable with, but you sign a document when you go on the show, so you have to do what they tell you.’
Things started so badly head judge Simon Cowell stopped the audition, leaving Lucy believing she’d messed it up. But she pleaded to be allowed to do a song she was comfortable with, Vissi D’Arte from Tosca.
‘They let me do the whole song, but at the end they all stood up and applauded. I think it’s the biggest risk I’ve ever taken. No-one knew the song at all – it’s not a popular opera song like Nessun Dorma – it was a big risk but it paid off.’
After the show finished in April, she rush-released her debut album Fantasia that September.
‘I said to them I want to take my time on the album, but they told me, you don’t have time, because BGT has got such a short expiry date, as it’s all done so quickly.
‘It was all very rushed. I enjoyed the experience but I never got the chance to take it all in because it was so fast. it was incredible and then for it to go to number one was insane – it was one of the best feelings ever. I never listen to it though – there are bits where I know I could have sung it better, or we had to leave stuff.
‘But I am proud of it, nonetheless, and I can say I’ve done it, it’s something I’d always wanted to do.’
Recording another album is something Lucy wants to do, and although she’s focused on the show for now, has clearly been thinking about it.
‘I’d love to do another album, but make it more crossover, so there’s some musical theatre on there, a bit more classical, something that appeals to everyone.
‘You limit yourself if you do a full-blown opera album, which mine was. It was all the biggest arias you can find, plus some of my favourites, like from Madame Butterfly and Samson and Delilah – songs I wish were more widely known.
I’ love being able to crossover and sing different styles.
‘It’s like in this show, there’s some which is like opera, other bits which are quite rocky – it’s widened my range. It’s surprised me how my voice has grown.’
Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
New Theatre Royal, Portsmouth
February 28-March 4