West End favourite Sophie Evans is joining an all-star cast at London's Royal Festival Hall for a celebration of the music of Irving Berlin. Ahead of the nationwide tour she told BWW:UK how excited she was to be taking part.

"It's all Irving Berlin's classics," says Evans. "We're celebrating 125 years since he was born. I'm pretty sure one of his grandchildren is going to be there!"

Irving Berlin: FROM RAGS TO RITZES will feature a 40-piece orchestra accompanying performances from singers Mary Carewe, Matthew Ford, Ricardo Afonso, and Tom Langham as well as 20-year-old Evans. The evening will be compered by presenter Leo Green, who'll pull together a playlist based on interviews Irving Berlin did with his father Benny Green for BBC Radio.

Evans explained why she thinks Berlin's songs have stood the test of time: "They will live on for a long time, everyone will have heard one of his songs before. They are just fun, they are really cleverly written as well. And I think that's why people are still interested in what he's done."

One of the songs Evans will perform is What'll I Do, latterly made famous by the TV comedy BIRDS OF A FEATHER. "I've got some lovely songs I'm singing but this is one I've really grown to like," says Evans, "It's a really beautiful melody to sing and tremendously done by Irving Berlin."

She's also looking forward to singing alongside a such a large orchestra: "I love singing with just piano, but when you bring a 40-piece orchestra it just brings it to life."

There's a great atmosphere amongst the company: "All the musicians are so passionate about this music as well you can just tell that everyone is having a really good time."

Evans came to fame as the runner-up in the BBC One casting show OVER THE RAINBOW at just 17. The following year she got to play the lead role in THE WIZARD OF OZ in the West End. So what was the experience like? "To perform at the London Palladium was just fantastic and to perform the role of Dorothy with such a wonderful cast was brilliant."

Perhaps unsurprisingly, she's a fan of the casting shows, which she thinks kick-started her career. "It's definitely helped me along massively. It's given me so many other opportunities like these concerts that are coming up for example."

She recently swapped the stage for the big screen with a part in Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright's feature film THE WORLD'S END. She hinted that there could be more acting to come: "Some TV and film are coming up. So as soon as I'm allowed to announce it on my website. Just to keep people guessing, it's a bit of acting in the future, I think."

But fans of her singing have nothing to fear. "I keep my singing up constantly. I'm currently recording a small album to take on tour with me."

Irving Berlin: FROM RAGS TO RITZES is at the Royal Festival Hall on Tuesday 28 January, before going on a nationwide tour.

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From This Author Adrian Bradley

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