Over the 2019 Christmas period, Eva Mairéad was playing Hendrika in Miracle on 34th Street in Liverpool, and had previously played Little Cosette in Les Misérables in Manchester, which marked her professional stage debut, and rebooked the role when the show had a run in Liverpool. On screen, Eva filmed as a witness child for Judge Rinder’s Crime Stories, has been a featured child for CBeebies and, among her commercial work, she appeared as the Christmas Cracker in Sainsbury’s The Big Night TV advert. Eva answers our questions about being in the cast of Miracle on 34th Street, playing Little Cosette in Les Misérables and her work on screen.
Your most recent production before the pandemic was Miracle on 34th Street in Liverpool, can you tell us who you were playing and about your time in the show?
I played the role of Hendrika so I sang solo and I was part of the very small ensemble which had only four children in each show. This meant we were on stage most of the time and had a lot to learn and do throughout. The whole company were amazing and I got to work with my friend who played Young Eponine when I played Little Cosette in Manchester on the Les Misérables UK Tour. It was lovely to work together again.
What was it like being part of the cast and working on a show over Christmas?
It was a Christmas show so it felt like I was living in Christmas wonderland from the very minute we started rehearsals. It was also my birthday on a performance night so I managed to have a family meal before the show and then they came to watch. It was a very busy Christmas but I really enjoyed it.
How was it booking the role of Little Cosette in the UK and International Tour of Les Misérables and performing in Manchester?
This was my first professional stage show and it gave me the real taste of musical theatre. Holding the attention of over 2000 audience members a night on my own was really special.
What did you enjoy most about playing the role and had you seen the show before being cast?
I hadn’t seen the professional stage show but I’d seen the film, the BBC adaptation and the Stagecoach performance of Les Mis, which was amazing. The thing I enjoyed the most was meeting the cast and chaperones and learning such a lot from them. They were fantastic to work with. I also loved being on Cameron Mackintosh’s payroll!
You then rebooked the role of Little Cosette when Les Misérables opened in Liverpool, how was it reprising the role?
I’d been told not to expect to be recast as the company prefer to give as many children as possible a chance so I went with an open mind and no expectations. As it was, I got the role again and it was brilliant as there had been some cast changes so I was working with some new cast members and the Empire Theatre is absolutely huge. This was an even bigger audience. I was also asked to work on rehearsals with the new Jean Valjean, Dean Chisnall, who was taking over the role at the next venue, which was very exciting.
Do you have any favourite memories from your time performing in both venues?
My favourite memory was having my family and friends and the principal of Stagecoach coming to see me at Les Mis. They met me at the end of the show and had brought flowers and cards. It was such a lovely memory and one I will always treasure. Another lovely memory was the very final bow in Liverpool where Killian Donnelly lifted me up and waved to the audience. I knew that would probably be the last time I played Little Cosette. As it was, I couldn’t reaudition for the Salford show at The Lowry because the tour was cancelled due to COVID-19. So I was right. I think I’d be too big now.
A few years ago you played Tiny Tim in A Christmas Carol, how was this?
This was a very different performance than I’d ever played in before. It was a promenade performance in a marketplace which was closed overnight. It was freezing so we had to wear lots of clothes. The audience members followed the cast around from one spot to another. That year I spent my birthday evening in the market. Everyone was so lovely and it gave me the bug to want to perform professionally.
How did you find the experience being a witness child for ITV’s Judge Rinder’s Crime Stories?
It was a great experience filming this documentary as it was my first TV appearance that wasn’t a commercial. The story itself was incredibly tragic so that was really sad but it was so important to tell the story as it really was. Filming itself was great. And I got to film with my twin sister. We were cast as friends because we don’t look alike. It was purely accidental that we were booked together.
Can you tell us about being involved with The Voice Kids?
This was a really special day as it was my birthday (again!). I got sang happy birthday to by Jessie J, Pixie Lott, Danny (Jones) and will.i.am. I was asked to sing for the judges to practise with the band, the chair turns etc. I got fabulous feedback and four chair turns. All in all it was one of my most favourite days ever.
How was it working as a featured child for CBeebies?
This was a brilliant few days as I got to meet all the CBBC presenters and film all the promo for various new series coming up. It was great to see myself on the TV advertising the new programmes.
You’ve filmed a number of commercials including for Sainsbury’s, can you say more about them?
Filming for Sainsbury’s The Big Night TV commercial was a wonderful experience. We spent a week rehearsing and a week filming. I worked with my sister again. We were a huge Irish Dancing Christmas Cracker which separated as the cracker was pulled. The best thing was working with and getting fabulous feedback from Michael Gracey who directed The Greatest Showman. The TV commercial won the best Christmas ad that year.
You started modelling from a young age, what do you enjoy most about modelling work?
My very first modelling job was a photograph of my feet in a heart shape when I was just a few weeks old. So I have modelled from being very little doing catalogues, supermarket brochures, clothing, educational work, toy companies etc. I got to keep a lot of toys! I have also walked the runway for London Fashion Week, Paris Fashion Week and New York Fashion Week. New York Fashion Week was my favourite because I got the chance to see the main tourist spots and had lots of photoshoots.
Where does your love of acting come from and how did you get into it?
I started Stagecoach Salford and dancing lessons at the age of three. I loved it and really enjoyed the performances. I then started LAMDA exams at three and quickly showed a talent and a love for it. I did my first show at the age of five, when I played Downy, a duckling in Honk!.
How do you like to spend your time away from acting?
I love to get out and about with my family. We enjoy walks with our dogs, Dotty and Donald. I love to sing and dance and create TikTok videos with my sister.
How have you kept busy during the pandemic and what are you hoping 2021 brings for your career?
I have kept busy during the pandemic by working on my maths! I don’t really enjoy maths so I’ve joined some online courses which I’ve actually enjoyed! I’ve been working on my Grade 4 Musical Theatre LAMDA and acting exams and I’ve done a lot of reading. More than anything I can’t wait to get back to watching live theatre and I’m looking forward to live theatre, face to face, auditions again. My family have already booked to see some shows in London in summer. Fingers crossed we get to go!
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