Most recently, Molly Lynch was in the cast of the two-handed musical The Last Five Years at Southwark Playhouse before theatres closed for the foreseeable future, and ahead of booking her role, she was performing in The Light in the Piazza as Ensemble and Understudy Clara in London and the American transfer. Amongst her many other roles, Molly has appeared in Wasted, Sunset Boulevard and Carousel, where she performed alongside Alfie Boe, and last summer, she premiered her show Rodgers & Hammerstein (& Me Too) at The Bread & Roses Theatre. We recently caught up with Molly who talks about performing in The Last Five Years, her time in The Light in the Piazza and playing Anne Brontë in Wasted.
What was it like opening in The Last Five Years as Cathy at Southwark Playhouse?
It was one of the most thrilling and challenging things I’ve ever done, and I had the best people around me to do it with. Jonathan (O’Boyle)’s concept for the show was totally genius, and Oli (Higginson) was the perfect Jamie. We had such an incredible experience creating it and worked so hard. I know it’s not yet had its full moment and I can’t wait to get back to it as soon as we can.
How was it performing in a two-handed musical?
So much fun but such a wild ride. I remember we would finish a run-through and I would say, ‘I have no idea what just happened’. We didn’t stop the whole time. We were either playing the piano or singing and had to be switched on and in the story at all times. It was so fulfilling and like riding a wave. Luckily, we had the ultimate trust in Jonathan and our team as when Oli and I would get to the end, we would be so dazed that Jonathan, George (Dyer) and Sam (Spencer-Lane)’s notes were our lifelines to making the show better but also knowing what the hell we had just done. It was impossible to keep tabs on ourselves, it used to make me laugh.
Can you say what it was like being part of The Light in the Piazza as Ensemble?
It’s one of the most beautiful, romantic shows ever and the cast we had was just astounding. Renée Fleming is a lifelong idol of mine, so I pinched myself every time I got to hear her sing in a rehearsal room. The fangirl in me (well, not quite in me, all of me is fangirl) couldn’t cope. I think I cried every single time she sang Fable. The ensemble itself was full of some of the most talented people I know, so being a part of that was a complete honour and, of course, led by Daniel Evans as our director, Kim Grigsby our MD and our movement director Lucy Hind. It was a dream. Also, Rob Houchen and his talent.
You understudied the lead role of Clara, how was this?
Petrifying. I had loved the role since drama school and since I spent the whole rehearsal period constantly bowing at the Queen that is Renée Fleming, when I had to sing next to her in front of all those people I was definitely in shock. But it is one of my most treasured experiences ever. I just think of my fourteen-year-old self, reading her biography and folding down my favourite pages going on to play her daughter on stage, it was truly madness. I had the most supportive cast who squeezed my hand and led me through it all, so I was extremely lucky.
The show opened in London before touring in America, how did you find the experience transferring overseas?
I loved getting to see America with the show. I had never been to LA or Chicago, and they were both incredible places. I’m especially grateful now, when travelling looks like it won’t be possible for a long time, that I had that experience. And the gang I was with were pretty special too.
Having appeared in Just So at Barn Theatre, Cirencester over Christmas 2018, what was this production like to be part of?
I had so much fun with that cast. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so much in my life. We had such a ball and I was lucky that one of my best friends in the world, Michaela Stern, was in it with me, and I also met Lewis Cornay, who is fantastic (but don’t tell him I said that), on that job. I loved the actor-musician element and getting to play an awkward bird, which is essentially all I am when it comes down to it.
Can you say about playing Anne Brontë in Wasted at Southwark Playhouse?
I loved that show so much. The four of us truly were a family and Adam Lenson is one of my MT heroes so getting to work with him was a joy. It was so wild and wacky and different, and that is everything I think new MT should strive to be. It was fresh and bold and we all believed in it, so we worked incredibly hard with our period costumes and wired microphones. It will always hold such a special place in my heart, and I will always be so proud I was in it.
What was Betty Schaefer like to play in Sunset Boulevard in Leicester and on tour?
I adored that character and show. I, again, made friends for life on that tour that I still chat to daily today. The Curve is one of the most incredible places to work at, and Nikolai Foster is one of the most generous directors. It was a total privilege for me to get that part as I had only done younger leads or ensemble up until that point. Getting to work with Ria Jones, Danny Mac and Adam Pearce was, again, a total honour as I was a fangirl of them all. It was a dream job.
As Standby Julie Jordan in Carousel, you performed in the role opposite Alfie Boe as Billy Bigelow, can you tell us about this?
Alfie Boe is brilliant and he was so kind to me when I went on. I had one guaranteed show as Julie and he gave me the most incredible support. My grandad flew over to London to see me in that show and loads of my family were there. It was such a huge moment in my life, again, made so special by the supportive cast and crew I had around me.
Some of your earlier shows have included Fiddler on the Roof and Sweeney Todd, what are some of your favourite memories from your early projects?
I think, again, my memories include being constantly starstruck by Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel and looking out into the Coliseum auditorium, on my very first job, and just thinking, how the hell did this happen?! I always laugh about the one solo line I had in Sweeney Todd that I used to BELT out like it was the last note in Don’t Rain on My Parade. It was actually a duet line with Gary Tushaw, who is incredible. I was such an eager beaver just living my best life.
Where does your love of acting come from and how did you get into your career?
Both of my grandfathers were musicians, so music has been a huge part of my life since I was young. My mum’s dad was in bands and also sang opera, and my dad’s dad was a pop singer who had three number ones in Ireland. I think both of my parents were nervous when I wanted to pursue this career as they know the reality of it, growing up in it, but they’ve been so supportive of me and I’m so lucky to have them. My family’s support has gotten me basically everywhere, as well as my annoying stubbornness.
Do you have any favourite musicals to watch on screen/stage?
I think my top three are Sweeney Todd, Carousel and Sunday in the Park. Sometimes I switch Sunday for Merrily, depending on my mood.
What musical theatre-related projects have you been involved with during lockdown?
My favourite thing to do has been recording demos for composer friends. It’s so exciting to be a part of new work and help writers hear it with a new voice on the track. It’s also a total honour to be one of the first people to sing or record something. My friend Colm O’Regan, who is the MD of The Book of Mormon Tour, is also an animator and we worked on a little cartoon together. I’ve been writing a bit myself too and trying to find ways to keep that part of myself alive as I really don’t know who I am without it.
What do you enjoy doing away from acting?
My main other hobby outside of music and theatre is surfing. I’m currently at home in Ireland (with my two weeks of self-isolation done) so I’m lucky enough that I’ve been able to get in the water and surf with my dad. It’s really special to me as I grew up with it and it’s a huge part of who I am, but obviously, it’s not something I can do in London, so it’s really amazing to be able to have these moments to get back to it. I also love following politics and generally just being a huge geek.
Last year, you premiered Rodgers & Hammerstein (& Me Too), can you tell us about it?
The show was a response to the Me Too movement (wow, doesn’t that feel like a million news cycles ago?!) through Rodgers and Hammerstein’s music. I worked with Ed Goggin and David Merriman to create a piece where we used verbatim text of the women and men involved in the various stories that came out and interwove them with songs like I Enjoy Being a Girl or Shall I Tell You What I Think of You. It was such a challenge and I definitely had to push myself (and drive everyone around me mad) by conceiving it and producing it, but I had fantastic collaborators in Ed and David, and I think we made something really cool.
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