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From Amazon warehouse to Grand Opera House for Blood Brothers’ Niki

Back on stage after spell packing boxes during lockdown, singer can’t wait to make most of Belfast’s restaurants

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Niki Evans as Mrs Johnstone and the cast of Blood Brothers

Niki Evans as Mrs Johnstone and the cast of Blood Brothers

Niki Evans in Blood Brothers

Niki Evans in Blood Brothers

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Niki Evans as Mrs Johnstone and the cast of Blood Brothers

The X Factor star Niki Evans has a Bloody good mission when she comes to Belfast — to eat her way around our best restaurants.

The singer is jetting in to perform the famous role of Mrs Johnstone in Blood Brothers at the Grand Opera House from Tuesday, which for years has been the mainstay of a number of the Nolan sisters.

Niki told Sunday Life: “It very much is an iconic role. I know most of the Nolan sisters, so it’s lovely — I was actually touring with Maureen Nolan recently so it is a very, very iconic Maureen Nolan basically!

“They’re lovely. I know most of them and Maureen never seems to age at all, she’s still beautiful.

“And Linda’s most lovely and I’ve worked with her before too, so I know most of them.”

Niki (49) said she loves coming to Northern Ireland and has been here “absolutely loads”, even when she is not on tour.

She said: “I came over first with The X Factor and then on holiday and I’ve been back for birthdays because I love it so much.

“Then I came with Legally Blonde, so I’ve been there quite a lot. I’ve met a lot of people over there and become really good friends with the manager from The Europa.

“We came over and did all the tourist things that we had to, like the Giant’s Causeway, but the food over there is just incredible, so I’m looking forward to eating my way around for two weeks.”

Niki shot to fame as a finalist on The X Factor in 2007 but had a lifetime in the music business.

She explained: “Before that I was a session singer and I’ve actually been singing since I was 12.”

The star admitted she feels the responsibility of playing such a big role that has seen so many household names do it before her. She said: “There’s lots of different Mrs Js and you get people that love Lyn Paul or Maureen or Linda etc, but what they don’t understand is that we’re all really great mates and we all interpret these scripts in our own particular way.

“Whether you’ve been in Blood Brothers two minutes or 50 years, we’re all a really, really close family so that’s what I love about it.

“We’re all completely different people. It’s like, nobody mothers or parents exactly the same and that’s what Mrs Johnstone is, she’s a parent, so I interpret the script differently to other Mrs Johnstones.”

She’s been on the road in various stage shows the best part of the past two years, but during a recent break she got married — and revealed she switched to other jobs to make ends meet when out of work during Covid.

Niki said: “The pandemic was a nightmare because everything was stopped, we had no chance of working.

“So Linda Nolan was killing herself laughing when I sent her a picture of me working at an Amazon dispatch place, you know, filling boxes for Amazon.

“But needs must. I’ve got a house, I’ve got bills to pay and I didn’t realise how long it was going to be until I got another stage job so yeah, we all had to jump ship.”

But now that she is back on the road she believes there is a newfound appreciation for theatre shows and her doing what she does best.

She added: “Just to get out and see people and see live entertainment rather than on the TV, it’s nice now to see their faces because a lot of the time when we first started back they had to wear masks.

“Fans of Blood Brothers haven’t seen it for a long time, so when they’re loyal followers it’s kind of a breath of fresh air.”

Blood Brothers is at the Grand Opera House, Belfast, from August 2 until August 13. For tickets visit www.goh.co.uk


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