Getting to spend every waking moment performing and travelling with your significant other sounds like a scenario right out of a musical. I mean, who hasn’t dreamt of touring around the world while singing ABBA songs?
This is reality for Mamma Mia! International tour stars Lucy May Barker and Phillip Ryan. The newly engaged couple is basically living out your couple fantasies IRL, having met at the initial auditions for the show nearly three years ago.
Despite playing Sophie and Sky in the musical, they initially weren’t too fond of each other until a few months into the job. Lucy shares, “When we were more comfortable with the show, that’s when we went on a couple of dates and he stayed over once and never left.” The pair have been touring together ever since, and it was during their six-week break that Phillip proposed to Lucy at their new home.
They told us that they’ve been too busy traveling to settle down for a proper prenup shoot, so we played fairy godmothers, musical-style, and brought them around to an amusement park for a couple of snaps. Before the shoot, we sat down with the couple to talk about Mamma Mia!, their wedding plans, and the upsides and downsides of working together for an extended period of time.
YOUNG STAR: Congrats on the engagement, guys! What was it like the first time you saw the cast and the crew after you got engaged?
PHILLIP RYAN: We’d just got back to our house for the first time in a while. I thought, “Why not do it here?” The sunset was stunning. We were having drinks with some friends on the beach and I thought, “I’m gonna do it next weekend.” And I did. I didn’t have the ring. I left it with our stage manager, so when we got to work on the Monday or Tuesday after, I announced at warm-up that our company manager did a good job looking after something that I would’ve definitely lost. And I went, “Oh, and she said yes.” Everyone was like, “What?”
LUCY BARKER: As I was walking down the aisle (during the wedding scene), I was thinking, “Oh my God, I get to do this for real!” I wear my engagement ring in the show, my real one, so then I’ll never have to take it off.
Take a chance on me: On and offstage couple Lucy May Barker and Phillip Ryan met at the initial auditions for the Mamma Mia! international tour.
What are the good and bad parts of working with each other?
Lucy: I think one of the things that I appreciate so much is if I’m having a tough day or if I’m struggling with my voice, I have that immediate support from Phil because he’s literally there physically onstage and offstage.
Phillip: I don’t think there will be many opportunities after this gig where we’ll get to work together. It’s just nice having it now and appreciating what we’ve got at the moment, not taking it for granted.
Have there ever been times where you had a misunderstanding but then had to face each other on stage later?
Lucy: We’d done one show. My parents were watching that evening. I thought, “Surely my mum’s seen it enough to tell (that we had a rift) or even just because they know us so well.” But instead she was like, “That’s literally the best the show I’ve ever seen. We love it so much.” I told her, “You do realize me and Phillip had a blazing row this afternoon?” The job does help dissipate any bad feelings because it’s fun and the stuff that we do is funny and cute. If we’re maybe thinking of having a row with each other, and then we have to do the show, it goes out the window from there.
Lay all your love on me: Lucy May Barker plays Sophie and Phillip Ryan plays Sky in Mamma Mia!.
After this tour, have you got any plans yet? What are your dream roles?
Phillip: I’d love to do Ghost, or maybe Tony in West Side Story.
Lucy: We both love Wicked, don’t we? Basically, let’s do lots of musicals where we can get cast together opposite each other (laughs). There are loads of great roles and I’m looking forward to doing some brand new musical theater. I love doing writing and being involved in something at the very start and having that creativity is always absolutely brilliant. Whatever comes after ABBA will be weird because it’s been such a massive part of our lives.
Lastly, are you gonna perform ABBA’s songs at your wedding?
Lucy: Definitely not perform. I’m hoping that some of our friends might stage some kind of finale flash mob on the dance floor. It’ll be a lot of the people from the (Mamma Mia) cast.
Phillip: The music is timeless. It’s funny at the end of the show when people are dancing, and you see an eight-year-old girl rocking out and screaming the words back at you. And next there’s an 80-year-old doing the exact same things but just a little bit slower.
Lucy: It’s like on the Lego box that says “one to 99 years.” I think that applies to Mamma Mia! as well.
MAMMA MIA CLOTHING CREDITS
Layout 1 (Bump Cars)
On Lucy May: Denim dress from Bench, fringe earrings from Aldo Accessories
On Phillip: Mustard button down shirt and selvedge denim jeans from Uniqlo
Layout 2 (Ferris Wheel)
On Lucy May: Pinstriped top from Bench, royal blue skort from Uniqlo, red circle earrings from Aldo Accessories
On Phillip: Gray polo shirt from Bench, gray pinstriped trousers from Uniqlo
Layout 3 (Carousel)
On Lucy May: Yellow floral dress and white sunglasses from Bench
On Phillip: White striped long-sleeved shirt and selvedge denim jeans from Uniqlo