Young Magherafelt woman lands lead role in ‘West Side Story’ musical

Rebecca Murphy
Rebecca Murphy

A young Magherafelt woman has landed herself the lead role in ‘West Side Story’ at the Grand Opera House in Belfast.

Rebecca Murphy, a music student at Queen’s University, will play Maria in the famous Leonard Bernstein musical which is being presented by the award-winning New Lyric Operatic Company.

Twenty-year-old Rebecca, who is trained in classical singing by the Scottish Mezzo-Soprano Debra Stuart, is currently in rehearsals for the show which opens in November.

“It’s really hard work but I’m looking forward to it,” she told the Mail. “The story line is very demanding and, as the weeks fly past, the pressure is building.”

The show is directed by Derry-born Kieran Griffiths who has stamped his interpretation upon Bertstein’s musical - inspired by Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet - with its searing score and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.

The story follows two impulsive star crossed lovers, bearing witness to their ill-fated choices.

Speaking of the director, Rebecca says although the work has been intense Griffiths makes you think “outside the box”. However, she admits that “it promises to be a great show.”

Rebecca has enjoyed much success at local Classical Music Festivals, including Holywood and Ballymena, receiving the second prize in the Northern Ireland Singer Competition as well as receiving an award for the ‘Most Promising Vocalist’.

On stage, Rebecca has played the roles of Cosette (Lés Miserables-Belfast School of Performing Arts), Dido (Dido and Aeneas-Queens Opera in England), and has taken to the Opera House stage before as a soloist, under the baton of Ashley Fulton in his original show ‘50 Shillings and a New Suit of Clothes’.

This year, she has appeared as a soloist with the Belfast Philharmonic Choir, accompanied by the Ulster Orchestra, performing the solo soprano part in Brahms ‘Requiem’, Bach ‘Magnificat’ and Rutter ‘Magnificat’.

‘West Side Story’ will run from November 18-22.