Belfast Telegraph

Old pals' act sparks good luck wishes from Wicked star Rachel Tucker as opening nights loom

By Ivan Little

Singing star Rachel Tucker, who opens in Wicked on Broadway on Tuesday night, has sent a good luck message to former colleagues who are reviving a Belfast musical in which she appeared with them 12 years ago.

Coincidentally Group! The Musical, which gave Rachel (34) one of her first theatrical breaks, also starts its new run on Tuesday night at the Mac in Belfast

Rachel will be one of only a few members of the original cast missing from the revival of Group!, which was written by Lurgan composer Conor Mitchell.

In a taped message from rehearsals in New York, Rachel, who is still a close friend of a number of her erstwhile colleagues, said: "I have very many happy memories of Group!

"It was a special time in my life and an important show for giving me the confidence that I could perform in a full-blown musical after a number of youth productions."

Before that Rachel was more used to singing in cabaret with her dad, Tommy 'Tucker' Kelly, and sister Margaret.

She added "Group! is a great show. I would love to be at the Mac on Tuesday but I am busy that night!

"I miss you all, but as we are sharing an opening night, let's do Belfast proud."

Rachel's career really took off after Group!

She reached the last stages of the Andrew Lloyd Webber TV show I'd Do Anything to find a Nancy for his production of Oliver in the West End

Rachel also impressed Liam Neeson in The Wizard Of Oz at the old Lyric Theatre, and landed a role in the London musical We Will Rock You.

But she shot to stardom as the witch Elphaba in the West End production of Wicked, which is the role she will be playing again on Broadway where earlier this year she appeared in Sting's musical The Last Ship.

Her old show Group! tells the story of a number of troubled individuals who undergo therapy for a range of crises in their lives

Mitchell decided to bring the musical back and update it after he had extensive counselling for alcohol addiction. The first production went to the Edinburgh Festival and to London. It has subsequently been produced in a number of different countries including America where it won best original score in the New York Musical Theatre festival

The Belfast cast of Group!, meantime, have sent Rachel their best wishes for her big night on Tuesday

Their message said: "Rach, you will knock them dead. Love from all the Group-ies."

  • Group! The Musical runs from Tuesday to Saturday next week at the Mac.

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