Fresh from appearing as Lauren in Kinky Boots, a performance that earned her an Oliver Award nomination, actress Amy Lennox has undertaken the role of Elly in the otherworldly Lazarus, a uniquely surreal musical (although one that still manages to defy musical conventions) with music and lyrics composed by none other than David Bowie. We caught up with Amy to learn more about her career, conquering stage fright and how Lazarus is different from anything she’s ever done before.
London Calling: How have performances been going so far?
Amy Lennox: It’s going really well, there have been some great audiences. The show is really special, you can’t really categorise it, and I don’t think I’ll ever do something quite like it again. It’s very individual.
LC: Can you tell us a bit more about your character Elly?
AL: She’s pretty unhappy in her marriage and feels like she hasn’t really amounted to much in her life. She suddenly lands this job with Newton and becomes infatuated by an ex-lover of his. She gets obsessed with the idea of her because she wants to be loved in the same way, and she quickly goes off the rails. She’s almost possessed by the idea of Mary-Lou and has one rough old night really. She meets a serial killer-like character called Valentine and has a bit of a breakdown. It’s quite a journey from A-Z, a really cool journey to do on stage.
LC: What’s it like to perform from Bowie’s own script, did you feel like you had a big responsibility?
AL: Not really, David Bowie chose the people to produce it for a reason, and they’ve just carried on from that and even improved it. We’ve tweaked it from its run in its New York, it’s slightly shorter and clearer. Our musical director worked closely with Bowie on many of his projects. It’s not like people don’t know what to do because he’s not here to tell us. If anything I just feel really proud to be part of it, and really happy to be continuing this lovely project.
LC: It seems like a really unconventional and intense production. Has it been fun to perform?
AL: Visually there are wonderful designs and projections that take over the stage when they appear. We have world-class musicians playing on stage with us behind the glass, and we see people in the audience just shutting their eyes and listening. It’s a feast for all the senses I think, completely unconventional and incomparable.
LC: You say that it’s different from anything you’ve ever done – what has that been like?
AL: As an actor it’s wonderful to have versatility. It’s easy to be cast in the same role all the time, and as an actor that’s one of the things you’re always battling. This role came at the most perfect time, I’d just finished playing Lauren in Kinky Boots and you really couldn’t find a more different role.
LC: What’s your favourite musical performance in the show?
AL: I always change my mind with this question! I really like No Plan, Bowie fans wouldn’t know it unless they’d heard the soundtrack. It’s so ghostly, stunning and pure, it has an otherworldly feel to it, nothing like anything else really. That one got me the most when I first heard it in the rehearsal room.
LC: How do you get ready to go on stage and perform? Do you have any rituals?
AL: I get nerves and fear, but it comes and goes. It’s like a long-term mind game with myself. I once got a bout of stage fright that just went on for six weeks. I tend to challenge myself by not letting myself get into a habit; I always make sure to mix it up. I don’t want to get into a situation where I have to do stuff a certain way, because it’s ridiculous! I think that it can be because of stress but also just the brain’s way of keeping things interesting – that’s my theory.
LC: What advice would you give to people who want to break into the industry?
AL: Honestly, if there’s anything else you love to do, do that. If you have any other option, you probably will sway towards that when things get tough. This kind of job really is for people with no other option, who couldn’t do anything else. Also I don’t believe in ‘oh you’ve made it’ because it never ends, you’ll always have a constant need to keep going. Be willing to live an unconventional lifestyle – you really need to prepare for that, and still want to do it more than anything in the Universe.
Lazarus runs until 22 January 2017 at King’s Cross Theatre. Tickets are between £15-£75, find out more here.