Her dream comes true

British actress Lindsey Tierney says she is fun and flirtatious, like the Roxie Hart she plays.
British actress Lindsey Tierney says she is fun and flirtatious, like the Roxie Hart she plays.PHOTO: MARINA BAY SANDS

Lindsey Tierney was thrilled to snag the lead role of a showgirl accused of murder in a musical, after playing supporting roles for more than 10 years

After more than a decade of playing supporting characters and being the understudy for lead roles in several Broadway and West End productions, British actress Lindsey Tierney has finally landed her big break.

Last year, she snagged the lead role of Roxie Hart - a sassy showgirl accused of cold-blooded murder - for the 2017 International Tour of Chicago.

The sexy musical, which centres on two beautiful women who murdered their lovers in 1920s Chicago, is now playing at the MasterCard Theatres at Marina Bay Sands.

"This is my big break," the 32-year-old tells The Straits Times in an interview at Oasia Hotel Novena, where she is staying.

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"This is my first lead role. After I was offered it, I kept grinning and I could not wipe the smile off my face," she recalls.

She first watched the musical about 10 years ago and has dreamt of playing Roxie ever since.

"She's got so many sides. She's got a dark side, but yet she's fun, flirtatious, clever and witty," Tierney says.

Her love of the stage began much earlier.

Born to an electrical engineer father and a dance teacher mother in the town of Doncaster in South Yorkshire, England, Tierney was enrolled in the Nellie Stagles School of Theatre Dance when she was three.

"I loved it. If I wasn't at school, I was dancing," she says.

She has a 30-year-old sister, who is a retired dancer.

When Tierney was nine years old, while on a school trip to London for the first time, she was taken to watch the musical Cats.

"I was mesmerised," she says. "It was the best thing I'd ever seen. That was when I realised I wanted to be an actress."

When she was 17, she began a three-year musical theatre course at Phil Winston's TheatreWorks college in Blackpool, England.

After graduation, she spent the next 10 years or so playing small roles and being the understudy for lead roles in productions such as We Will Rock You, Love Me Tender, Mamma Mia and Fame.

Then her telephone rang - in the middle of cast pre-show warm-ups for a Chicago UK tour performance last year.

"Everyone had been getting calls all day for the Singapore tour, but my phone did not ring," recalls Tierney. "I started worrying that I would not be offered a role."

She was, of course, wrong, and immediately accepted the part.

"I knew that if I continued to work hard, I'd get here some day," she says. "It has happened now. The timing is right. I'm ready for it and am equipped to do a good job."

The variety of roles that she has played in the past decade has given her the necessary experience for this latest role, she says.

"There are big songs and big dance routines. I have to use every skill I've learnt to play Roxie Hart."

The multi-faceted character means that Tierney has to showcase the ability to be vulnerable and indomitable at the same time, as Roxie handles her relationships with the various characters in the production very differently.

For example, there are scenes where Roxie interacts with her husband and shows her domineering side and there are times when she is subdued by her lawyer who wields power over her.

Tierney's favourite scene sees Roxie addressing the audience directly, showing them who she really is. It concludes with a sexy, flirty number titled Roxie.

"It's all her. We see her fun, flirtatious side and we also see her naive, dreamy side," she says.

Tierney, who is married to a stage artist, says she can identify with Roxie's personality traits.

"I would definitely say I'm fun. I think I can admit to being quite flirtatious too," she says. "Roxie dreams of becoming a star - that's also been my dream."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 14, 2017, with the headline 'Her dream comes true'. Print Edition | Subscribe