Watching grand old movie musicals on repeat as a child is sure to have an impact on a young girl’s aspirations in life. Children so fortunate as to have the performances of Julie Andrews and Judy Garland introduced to them in their formative years often grow up wanting to perform themselves, and this is precisely how Claire Lyon, currently starring as Christine Daae in the world tour of Phantom of the Opera, began her career.
“I grew up watching (on a daily basis) The Wizard of Oz, Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music. I was obsessed. I think this is where my love of performning must stem from!” she told AussieTheatre recently.
Having trained at the Victorian College of the Arts in classical voice, after 15 years of ballet classes and singing lessons as a child, she concedes that showbiz has been in her blood since she first saw the classics on VHS.
“I really have been working towards being a performer for the majority of my life!”
Before graduating from her Bachelor’s Degree, Lyon was engaged by Opera Australia to perform in Alcina during their Melbourne Season at the Arts Centre. This led to her appearing in OA’s 2008 musical My Fair Lady and later, a full time contract as a chorister for two years with Australia’s national opera company.
“I performed in over 15 operas as a soprano chorister, as well as performing numerous supporting roles. Then came Love Never Dies“, she said.
The transition from opera chorister to musical theatre leading lady was a natural one for Lyon, who after singing with Opera Australia for two years, auditioned for Lloyd Webber’s Phantom sequel Love Never Dies.
“When I heard Love Never Dies was coming, after growing up listening to and singing Phantom, I knew I had to audition. There were some technical aspects to my voice that I have to alter when singing music theatre, for example, lightening and brightening my sound, but generally I sing music theatre more on the classical side!”, said Lyon, resigned from her full time job at Opera Australia to understudy the role of Christine Daae in Love Never Dies.
“Choosing to leave a full time job at Opera Australia was a big decision but certainly paid off. Love Never Dies was such an incredible experience. It got me dancing again (as one of the showgirls) after not having danced properly in 10 years and going on as Christine numerous times gave me the opportunity to show the producers and creative team that I was capable of becoming a leading lady.”
And capable she most certainly is. Taking the endless publicity tours, the responsibility of leading lady status and taking the time to respond to her fan on social media in her stride, Lyon has proved herself time and time again as Phantom has moved from Korea to the Phillipines, Singapore and Thailand. Her transition from understudy to leading lady was smooth – as Love Never Dies came to an end in early 2012, Lyon filmed an audition for the World Tour of Phantom of the Opera at the Capitol Theatre and sent off to London for approval.
“I then received the good news from my agent a few weeks later!” she said.
Now with an impressive number of performances in the coveted role of Christine Daae in both the lauded original musical and the sequel, Lyon is wowing audiences around the world and fast becoming a leading lady in high demand. Thankfully, her touring schedule allows for a short break between seasons and Australian audiences will have a chance to see Lyon on stage in Melbourne very soon.
Having completed the final performance of Phantom Of The Opera in Singapore last night, Lyon is heading back to Australia to prepare for another coveted soprano role – Mabel in The Production Company’s The Pirates of Penzance. Directed by Dean Bryant, musically directed by Matthew Frank and starring Gareth Keegan, Wayne Scott Kermond and Brent Hill, The Pirates of Penzance opens on October 30 and will play a limited season at Hamer Hall.
Our next leading lady’s fairytale story is just beginning. Watch this space, Australia – Claire Lyon is a name to remember.
Lyon has also recently released her debut album On Stage – available on iTunes now.
Visit clairelyon.com for more details.