Somewhere over the rainbow in Southsea

Over The Rainbow (The Eva Cassidy Story) is being performed at the Kings Theatre on October 19.
Over The Rainbow (The Eva Cassidy Story) is being performed at the Kings Theatre on October 19.
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The name Eva Cassidy may be a part of everyone’s consciousness – everyone knows exactly who she is - but many don’t know the real story of her life.

Outside of her hometown Washington DC, Eva was pretty much unknown. That is until Over The Rainbow was played by Terry Wogan on BBC Radio 2.

After dying at the tender age of 33 from melanoma, her story has been immortalised in Over The Rainbow (The Eva Cassidy Story), which is being shown at the Kings Theatre, Southsea, on October 19.

Joining the production will be three well-known faces; Maureen Nolan (The Nolan Sisters, Blood Brothers) who will play Eva’s mother Barbara, Strictly’s Brian Fortuna will play her brother Danny, while Sarah Jane Buckley (Hollyoaks) will play Eva.

While on tour, Maureen Nolan talks about what it’s like to appear in the show.

She says: ‘The show is going really well, even though it involves a lot of long nights. They’re really really good audiences and a lovely cast to work with.

‘The girl playing Eva, Sarah Jane, is amazing.’

After leaving the Nolan sisters in 2005, Maureen has been acting on and off, and with a sisterly reunion in 2009 it has been a busy couple of years.

Maureen adds: ‘I’ve been acting for six years now, and I really enjoy it. Acting generally is great, and musical theatre I love because it involves the singing.

‘It’s odd because you wait for work, and then a lot comes at the same time! I miss all the girls of course, and I miss the fun we have when we get together.’

The singing star may not have been to the area before, but one of her famous sisters has been.

‘I haven’t been to Southsea before,’ she explains, ‘but I think my sister Bertie did pantomime there once, so I’m looking forward to it.’

With 24 songs to perform, and playing Eva’s whole life story, Sarah Jane Buckley doesn’t leave the stage throughout the performance.

After playing Kathy Barnes in Hollyoaks from 2005 to 2008, Sarah decided to branch out into something new.

She says: ‘It’s really lovely working with the show, and I’m so lucky to be working with Maureen Nolan and Brian Fortuna, which is exciting because it’s really nice to work with a new body of actors.’

After auditioning for a different show last year, Sarah Jane was offered the chance to play Eva.

She explains: ‘I didn’t know much about it and thought “what have I done playing the biggest part?” I love her music and I perhaps didn’t know as much as I thought I did.

‘She played so many different styles of music, country, jazz, blues, and pop.’

Before her acting career took off Sarah Jane was part of a cabaret duo, The Polkadots, that toured the south coast. But similarly to Maureen, visiting Southsea will be a new experience.

‘The nearest I came to Portsmouth then was Southampton. I love being on the south coast though, and I imagine it will be fun in Southsea.’

Tickets cost £15.50 to £17 from the Kings Theatre, Southsea, on (023) 9282 8282 or go to kings-southsea.com.