Belfast's belle of Broadway...our Rachel Tucker wows the Big Apple in Sting musical
She's the Belfast woman taking Broadway by storm.
Singer and actress Rachel Tucker has just been hailed as giving one of the top 10 performances of 2014 on the New York stage.
Her role as Meg Dawson in Sting's first musical The Last Ship has won plaudits from NBC4 New York, which announced its influential list just before Christmas.
The star - who once believed that playing the bad witch Elphaba in Wicked on the West End would be her best role- has eclipsed her own career goals and is the toast of the Big Apple theatre world.
The 33-year-old mother-of-one plays a woman caught up in a torrid love triangle set against the backdrop of the Tyne and Wear shipbuilding industry inspired by Sting's own upbringing.
Her spirited performance in the production, which premiered in Chicago before opening in the Paul Simon Theatre in New York, has been praised for the emotional intensity she brings, as well as her stunning vocals.
Described as "one of the most exciting" West End-to-Broadway transfers in years, NBC said: "As Meg, the spitfire mom at the centre of a complicated love triangle, Tucker does the nearly impossible: turn a male-dominated show into a female story."
She recently tweeted her thanks to NBC New York and said "Wow! Totally honoured!" in response to receiving the accolade after only six months in the role.
Rachel first came to prominence when she competed for the role of Nancy in the musical Oliver in the Andrew Lloyd Webber BBC talent search programme I'd Do Anything in 2008.
She was introduced to the entertainment world by her musician father, singing around the clubs of Belfast as a young girl.
In a recent interview on New York entertainment website Broadway.com, she talked about the role and her life in New York with husband Guy Retallack and 18-month-old son Benjamin.
She said of her character: "Meg is fiery and tender, she's got a massive heart, and she loves her family. I think we're very similar.
"I have a son and a family I adore. I have not been in (a love triangle). That's one thing I don't mirror."
She has several big numbers in the musical and explained that it was Sting's music that drew her to the role.
"When I heard the (Last Ship concept) album, I related to the music instantly. It's got that Celtic-y, working class, earthy vibe, and that's what Belfast is," she said. "I actually feel like I've come full circle. It's like I'm home again, even though I'm halfway around the world."
Rachel was honoured for her role as Elphaba in Wicked at the 2011 Whatsonstage.com Awards in London in 2011, where she was named 'Best Takeover In A Role' for her performance.
She has also starred in the hit musical We Will Rock You, where her big voice was again showcased.
What the critics said
'Her sultry voice will draw you in and she plays each moment with such honesty, you'll empathise with her each step of the way' - NBC 4 New York
'A spitfire of a performance from Rachel Tucker' - Variety Broadway performance
'Rachel Tucker, a stunning redhead who burns up the stage' - Chicago Sun-Times