Brian Beacom

HOW many people’s lives have been changed by the slap of a palm onto a big red button?

Lucy O’Byrne’s has, thanks to an incredible moment in 2015 when the Voice mentor Will.I.Am selected Lucy for stardom.

Since that time, classically-trained Lucy has gone on to realise her ambition of becoming a musical theatre star, having appeared in Les Mis, and now The Sound of Music, set to come to Glasgow.

“I could never have imagined something like that happen,” says the Dublin-born singer of the life-altering moment.

“And since that time I’ve never forgotten how lucky I am to be doing the job I love.”

A chat with Lucy reveals a real humility. But there sees to be a contradiction in the success story.

It’s been written she didn’t want to enter the Voice. That it was her sister who finally persuaded you to audition.

Yet, on the other hand, aged fourteen Lucy asked her dad to help land an agent in order to find work in London.

And that’s on top of having been performing before she attended primary school.

You can’t have been that shy, Lucy?

“No, here’s what happened,” says the 26 year-old, smiling. “I’ve always wanted the success. I grew up in a very musical family, my parents were performers and they teach and direct in musical theatre.

“We really have been the Von Trapps of Dublin, even though there were just four of us.

“But I didn’t want to do the Voice. It’s not really about musical theatre. It’s mostly pop, and if you fail, you fail on a grand scale.

“I thought it wouldn’t do me any favours. And I didn’t want my career ruined.”

It was at this point Lucy’s sister, Rachel, (an actress) whacked Lucy about the head with the rolled up newspaper of reality.

“She told me I didn’t have a career to ruin,” says Lucy, grinning in recall.

“She said ‘You have nothing to lose.’ So go for it.”

And she did. And when Will.I.Am hit the button, Lucy’s career rocketed skywards. The profile of television brought her to the attention of theatre producers and soon she was in Les Mis, her dream job.

But what does Lucy reckon she’d been doing wrong up to that point? Her voice is wonderful. Why didn’t she make it past the early audition stages in theatre?

“There were lots of problems,” she admits.

“One of the main things was confidence. When I was back home in Dublin I was quite successful; I did a lot of voice-over work, I was an actor and a singer. I worked a lot.

“And any professional musical theatre that did exist in Ireland, I had done.

“But then I came to London and no one gave a monkeys for what I had done before. The talent pool in London was huge, with people coming in from all over the world.”

Lucy found herself working in theatre. But in front of house, selling ice-creams and popcorn.

“And on top of that, I was away from my family for the first time and I was lost. I’d gone from being a big fish in a small pond to a very small fish.”

Lucy became entirely despondent.

At one point, the hopeful performer was in her flat talking to her flatmate, who casually asked when she was planning to go home for a visit.

“I hadn’t been thinking about it but I was so low I just stood up, put on my coat and walked out the door and took a plane back to Dublin.

“I didn’t go back to London for three weeks. And the only reason I came back was because I was about to lose my ushering job.”

At that point the Voice came up. And although she came second, Lucy’s confidence soared.

“Will.I.Am was a big factor in the confidence thing. He spent a lot o time with us off camera. He said to me; “I can’t teach you anything about singing. What you do with your voice I don’t understand what you do.’

“But what he did get across was about projection and performing.”

Lucy adds; “I came off that show with a huge high. And then producer Bill Kenwright called me up the following week. And suddenly I was being recognised on the underground. It changed everything.”

Now, the Von Trapp Dubliner (her family group messages are listed as Von Trapp, and have done for years) is playing the governess of the Austrian Von Trapps.

She can’t quite believe it. “I’m completely terrified. Not just because of the Julie Andrews connection, but Maria was a real person, and that’s a big legacy to be part of.”

Yet, she’s loving every moment of the journey.

“Life has moved on so much.” She adds, grinning. “I’ve gone straight from Les Mis to this.

“Now, the plan is to stay on stage in musical theatre. But not working front of house selling ice creams.”

* The Sound of Music, the King’s Theatre, January 23 – 27