Life’s a Wiz says Steph

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Heaven on Earth writer Sara Jeffs with Russell Watson

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At the age of four, she recalls with a bubble of laughter, she would clamber on to a table and sing Whitney Houston’s hit, I Will Always Love You – and perhaps that is hardly surprising since both her parents were music professionals.

But genes are no guarantee of the level of success already enjoyed by Stephanie Fearon.

Best-known for finishing fourth in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Wizard Of Oz casting show Over The Rainbow, she is now playing the role that narrowly eluded her there.

While TV winner Danielle Hope is the West End’s Dorothy, Steph plays her in a national tour that includes Portsmouth Guildhall.

Steph, whose Jamaican father was in 1980s band Galaxy and whose Maltese mother was a singer with Baby D, was herself one of the more experienced performers in Over The Rainbow.

She had enjoyed her first taste of professional theatre as a 10-year-old in a Lloyd Webber musical, Whistle Down The Wind,in the West End.

‘I don’t think I’ve ever cried so much as I did when that finished,’ she says.

‘It was such an amazing experience to be missing school and going on stage and singing every night!’

At 12 she was in Channel 4 teen drama As If, and highlights from her teens were My Parents Are Aliens in 2005 and a national tour of Little Shop Of Horrors.

That came immediately after she graduated from the Italia Conti Academy in London in 2009.

‘But I don’t think anything could prepare you for something like Over The Rainbow,’ says Steph, now 22.

‘It was the most intense thing I’ve done.

‘My experience did help me because a lot of the girls were straight out of school, but I can’t describe the feelings I had on a Saturday before the show – I was as nervous as hell. I think I was one of the worst.’

So how did she feel about finishing fourth? Disappointed?

‘Oh no, I was so happy,’ she exclaims. ‘I didn’t think I’d get anywhere near that far. Obviously to win would have been amazing but I have done so much since the show ended.

‘In December I released an album of my favourite theatre songs called My Parade, and now I’m playing Dorothy on tour.

‘It’s nothing like the West End show. It’s a light version without any of the songs from the original, and it has a twist.

‘Bobby Davro is playing Scarecrow so I’m prepared for some tricks to be played on me on stage!

‘With Dorothy it’s hard because she has to be the straight one and it’s hard to take her too much off that path.’

And for the future? ‘I want to do everything,’ Steph laughs again. ‘TV, West End, pop star – ‘and if Steven Spielberg called tomorrow and asked me to do his next movie with Denzel Washington, I’d say yes please!’

Others in The Wizard Of Oz include Sarah-Jane Honeywell from CBeebies.

· Guildhall performances on Tuesday, April 19 (2pm and 6pm). Tickets: (023) 9282 4355 or portsmouthguildhall.co.uk.

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