HONORARY Mackem Faye Tozer says she’s delighted to be making a splash on her home stage.
For the first time since moving to Wearside five years ago, the 38-year-old is performing at the Sunderland Empire as part of a two week-run.
The former Steps singer is starring as Lina Lamont in the musical Singin’ in the Rain and she says the Sunderland leg of the tour swayed her decision to take on the role.
“One of the reasons I took the job is because it meant I would be able to be at home for a month. I’m a working mum and I want to be at home as much as I possibly can,” she told the Echo.
After marrying Sunderland-born Michael Smith, Faye moved to his home city and the couple now live in Boldon with their son Benjamin, four.
She said: “It’s been great because I’ve been able to do the school run in the morning, do renovations on my house, go to B&Q and then do the show in the evening.
“Benjamin’s been to see me in the show as well as my mother-in-law and all my girlfriends from here are coming this week, so it’s been lovely having them in the audience.”
After Steps initially split, Faye went on to forge a career on the stage, appearing in musicals including Love Shack and Over the Rainbow - the Eva Cassidy Story, playing Eva Cassidy.
“This is probably the biggest production I’ve been in, it’s an amazing show. Staging-wise it’s more elaborate than it was in the West End, it’s a bigger spectacle and you have this million-pound flooring with 12,000 litres of water,” she said.
“It’s probably closer to the film than other versions of the musical and that’s partly what attracted me to it.
“When I go to see a show that’s based on a film I want to go and see what it says on the tin.”
Faye plays shallow leading lady Lina Lamont in the touring production, a role originally played by Jean Hagan in the 1952 film starring Gene Kelly.
She said: “It’s funny because I think people are used to seeing me in the glamorous, love interest roles, but Lina is a comic character with this squeaky voice.
“People have asked me if I wear a voice machine for the role which makes me laugh, it’s all my own voice. I studied the film for a month before.
“I’m a huge fan of the film and I wanted to make sure my performance was close to that.”
Though Faye often has to travel to London for work, she says she loves living in the North East.
She added: “I’ve done my time in London and it’s fine when you’re young.
“But it’s important for me to have a private life, a normal life, it keeps my feet on the ground.
“It’s a really positive place up here, the air is so much cleaner and in ten minutes I can be at the beach. I often get stopped in Asda for pictures, so there’s a lot of photos of me with a shopping trolley, but no one’s ever aggressive. I’m flattered they’re interested in me and my career.”
Faye reunited with her fellow Steps singers in 2012 for an arena tour and says she hasn’t ruled out future Steps projects.
“We talk pretty much every week and though we have nothing set in stone, we are talking about stuff,” she explained. “But, in the meantime, I’m touring with Singin’ in the Rain until April then I plan to add to the family before anything.”
l Singin’ in the Rain is at Sunderland Empire until February 1. For tickets, Tel. 0844 871 3022.