The Girl Behind the Red Dress: Get to Know Broadway's New Pretty Woman, Samantha Barks!
Pretty Woman is currently bringing its twist on the Cinderella tale to the stage at Broadway's Nederland Theatre with star Samantha Barks making her Broadway debut donning the signature red gown nightly. Get to know Barks below!
At just 17, UK-born Barks first burst onto the scene appearing on the 2008 competition show I'd Do Anything in which Andrew Lloyd Webber and Cameron Mackintosh put on a search for the next Nancy in Oliver!. Barks came in third ahead of West End and Broadway star Rachel Tucker.
In the show's quarter final, Barks performed Defying Gravity and even got advice from Idina Menzel herself:
Following the kickstart to her career, Barks took on the role of Sally Bowles in the UK tour of Cabaret and in 2010 was cast in the role of Eponine in Les Miserables. She was handpicked by Cameron Mackintosh to perform at that year's 25th Anniversary Concert.
In 2011, Barks finally got to tackle the role of Nancy in Oliver! on tour in the UK. She took a brief hiatus to film what would perhaps make her most recognizable to an international audience, the screen adaptation of Les Miserables. She reprised her stage role as the tragic Eponine belting out anthems like 'On My Own'.
In 2013, The Hollywood Bowl chose Chicago as its star studded musical event of the season. Barks hopped the pond and headed to Los Angeles to channel her inner dancing murderess in the role of Velma Kelly. She took the stage alongside Drew Carey as Amos, Lucy Lawless as Mama Morton, Stephen Moyer as Billy Flynn, and AshLee Simpson as Roxie Hart.
Before it made the jump to Broadway, Amelie made its out-of-town debut at Berkeley Repertory Theatre with Barks in the title role of the inquisitive and charmingly shy Amélie.
Playing alongside much of the Broadway cast, Barks' costars included David Andino, Randy Blair, Adam Chanler-Berat, Alison Cimmet, Savvy Crawford, Carla Duren, John Hickok, Alyse Alan Louis, Shannon O'Boyle , Maria-Christina Oliveras, Tony Sheldon, Perry Sherman, Jacob Keith Watson, and Paul Whitty.
Charles McNulty of the Los Angeles times described Barks' Amelie "as sprightly and otherworldly as the garden gnome Amélie uproots from her widowed father's backyard to encourage him to venture out into the world again. But she's marked by a lonely detachment, and her fey air can't conceal her very real, even if unarticulated, sadness."
In 2016, Barks made the trek back to the West End to star as Cathy in The Last Five Years, a production directed by Jason Robert Brown himself. She starred opposite stage and screen actor Jonathan Bailey telling the tale of the two New Yorkers in their twenties who fall in and out of love over the course of five years.
That same year, Barks recorded a self-titled album featuring highlights from her career including As Long As He Needs Me and On My Own as well as charming hits such as If I Die Young and Go the Distance.
Just prior to her run in Pretty Woman, Barks made her solo cabaret debut at Feinstein's/54 Below in the summer of 2017 thrilling audiences with her hearty vocals.