Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Homecoming Has Zoe So Emotional; There Aren't Many Jobs That Would Have Convinced Zoe Birkett to Trade in Her Tickets to New York but, as the Singer Tells Sam Wonfor, There Aren't Many Jobs Guaranteed to Have You Crying Daily Tears of Joy

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Homecoming Has Zoe So Emotional; There Aren't Many Jobs That Would Have Convinced Zoe Birkett to Trade in Her Tickets to New York but, as the Singer Tells Sam Wonfor, There Aren't Many Jobs Guaranteed to Have You Crying Daily Tears of Joy

Article excerpt

Having been anecdotally warned not to get her hopes up, when Zoe Birkett got the news her Green Card application had been rubber-stamped, she couldn't have felt luckier.

Within weeks she'd found a tenant for her London home and made plans to leave for New York - more specifically to chance her considerable on-stage talents on Broadway - in February 2015.

And then the phone call came asking her to take a swing at her dream role.

Anyone who has followed the 14-year career of Consett-born Zoe to date will need no telling of her devotion to Whitney Houston. The first time we saw her as a smiley 16-year-old on ITV's 2001 talent search Pop Idol (a precursor to The X Factor), she was singing Whitney classics such as One Moment in Time, I Wanna Dance With Somebody and (of course) I Will Always Love You.

They served her well. She reached the final of the competition which was eventually won by Will Young. But back to the phone call, which was enough to make Zoe take a raincheck on her planned move to America. "Oh my god, I'd never even had an audition for The Bodyguard before last summer and it had been in the West End for ages," says the now 30-year-old Zoe. "And here they were, asking me to come in. There's no way I could have said no. Not a chance."

And it seems the producers of the touring production of the West End hit show - including Wallsend-born Michael Harrison - felt the same way.

She was quickly signed up to share the lead role of Rachel Marron (made famous by Houston in the 1992 movie which took the world by storm) with fellow talent show graduate Alexandra Burke, who won The X Factor in 2008.

For anyone unfamiliar with the plot, it sees former secret service agent turned bodyguard Frank Farmer hired to protect demanding diva superstar Rachel from an unknown stalker. As the drama unfolds, the pair fall in love.

Zoe is taking care of all matinee duties, as well as selected evening performances, throughout the mammoth tour, which kicked off in February and is scheduled to run until March 2016.

As well as singing classics from the bestselling film soundtrack, including Queen of the Night, Run to You, I Have Nothing and, of course, the iconic cover of Dolly Parton's I Will Always Love You, the stage musical also incorporates a host of tracks from Houston's platinum-plated back catalogue.

All of Zoe's audition favourites as well, as So Emotional, Saving All My Love and I'm Your Baby Tonight get a belt out.

I spoke to Zoe in October when her casting was announced, and to say she was excited would be an understatement of ridiculous proportions. "Are you kidding? It's a dream come true," she gushed. "You pretty much get to sing the whole of Whitney's classic back catalogue. I can't wait and still can't quite believe it."

When we catch up a few weeks into the tour, I wonder how the reality of getting her dream job is playing out. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.