A supremely talented singing sensation is set to provide the perfect curtain-raiser to St Andrews’ summer feast of outdoor entertainment.
West End stage star and film actress Samantha Barks is ushering in Byre In The Botanics, a spectacular five-week festival of open-air concerts, film screenings and family attractions at St Andrews Botanic Gardens.
The award-winning 25-year-old singer is performing on Thursday, June 30, and hers is one of several live shows in the diary – programmed by the Byre Theatre, St Andrews – which also features performance from such names as Barbara Dickson and Rab Noakes, along with Capercaillie and Jacqui Dankworth.
Samantha’s show – which concludes a concert hall tour to promote her new album – is set to include songs from her most celebrated roles and other favourites from musical theatre and film.
Also blending tracks from the recently-released album, the tour is set to bring a fresh sound to some familiar tunes, as she lends her own lively, modern approach to songs such as ‘As Long As He Needs Me’, ‘This House Is Empty Now’, and of course, Les Misérables’ ‘On My Own’.
From the Isle of Man, Samantha first rose to fame as a finalist on the BBC’s talent show-themed television series ‘I’d Do Anything’ in 2008.
Since then, she has starred in some of the most loved productions on the West End stage and beyond, picking up broad acclaim in the process.
She gave a memorable portrayal of Eponine in ‘Les Miserable’ and was asked to reprise the role for the Oscar-winning 2012 film version, which starred Hugh Jackman, Eddie Redmayne, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway and Helena Bonham Carter.
Samantha’s appearance saw her announced as Empire Magazine’s ‘Best Female Newcomer’ and nominated for an illustrious Screen Actor’s Guild Award.
She how has over 20 million hits on both Spotify and Youtube, and universally-lauded touring productions of ‘Oliver!’ and ‘Cabaret’ to her credit.
Glad to heralding Byre In the Botanics, Samantha told the Citizen she was delighted to be performing north of the border.
“I love performing in Scotland,” she said. “I have been to Edinburgh for a month with ‘Oliver!’ and was in Glasgow and Aberdeen doing ‘Cabaret’. It is always so much fun – the crowds are so warm, which absolutely makes the show.
“I am looking forward to St Andrews – apparently it’s the most beautiful venue and it will be a special place to end the tour.”
She said the show would be a combination of all things about musical theatre, for which she had a huge passion.
“Some songs I have performed so many times, like from Oliver ‘As Long As He Needs Me’, from ‘Oliver!’ but I do it in a jazz style, which is very different.
“It’s nice to get to do that – I get to go through my musical influences and I love doing different styles.”
Samantha said she loved any song with a story and particularly liked Joni Mitchell and country songs for the stories they told.
Proud to be associated with ‘Les Miserables’, she added: “It’s such a well-loved piece of theatre. There’s a huge amount of pressure to get it right or be truthful to the piece.
“It was so lovely. I love it and was in the West End stage production, and I wanted to do it justice.”
Samantha added the 2013 Academy Awards ceremony, when ‘Les Mis’ collected three Oscars and was nominated for five others, was “the highlight of my life”.
She added: “Just being up on that stage and performing on which is probably the ultimate of all stages, with people I have grown up admiring – I never though that somehow I would be there, or involved.
“I was thinking ‘is that me up there?’ It was like an out of body experience.”