Lyrie Murad is part of the ensemble in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella, which opens July 11 at the Malkin Bowl. (photo from Theatre Under the Stars)
Lyrie Murad makes her Theatre Under the Stars debut this summer in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella, which opens July 11.
“I’m both excited and nervous to be performing in front of 1,000 people every night,” Murad told the Independent. “I mean, that’s a lot of people! It’s great, because Cinderella is such a magical show, with such an empowering message, but it can be a lot of pressure to deliver the beloved tale. Despite this, I believe that our director, Sarah Rodgers, has done an incredible job in creating a show that will appeal to both young kids and adults, and that everyone will enjoy the love and magic the story entails.
“I am also so excited,” she said, “to be doing this show every other night with this company because everyone is so kind, funny and beyond talented, which makes the show so fun to do. I was nervous going into the rehearsal room, being the youngest in the ensemble, because I was going to be working with people up to 10 years older than me. But everyone was so welcoming, and I’ve learned a lot from all of them.”
Murad was born in Portland, Ore., but has lived in Metro Vancouver since she was 3 years old.
“My parents were both born and raised in Israel, so Israeli culture was a big part of my life growing up,” she said about her background. “My whole extended family lives in Israel, and it is extremely important to my parents to keep in contact with them, as well with the country, so they make sure we visit Israel at least once a year. I speak Hebrew fluently, which allows me to communicate with my family, as well as many people in Vancouver’s Israeli community.”
Murad went to elementary school at Vancouver Talmud Torah until Grade 6, then moved to McMath Secondary School, a late French immersion public school in Richmond. “I love learning languages, so choosing French was a no-brainer and a welcome addition to English and Hebrew,” she said.
While the family is not religious, “we observe the major holidays and traditions with various friends throughout the year,” she said. “Having gone to VTT, I have stayed very connected with the Jewish community through the friends I have from there. I’ve always felt OK with leaving VTT because I knew I could still stay connected to my roots by going to Camp Miriam, a Jewish social justice-based summer camp on Gabriola Island that has taught me a lot about different aspects of Judaism. I take pride in my Jewish identity, and I’m so happy that Vancouver has such a welcoming and inclusive community.”
Murad has been taking voice lessons and competing in local music festivals since she was 8 years old, and has been taking piano and music theory lessons since the age of 10. She has been dancing since she was 10, as well.
“I only started thinking about acting much later, so the lessons came recently,” she said. “I just finished my third year in the drama department at my school, and I’ve been taking private acting lessons for two years now. I have had the amazing opportunities and experience to perform with the Vancouver Opera in their productions of Tosca in 2013 and Hansel and Gretel in 2016.
“It’s always been hard for me to choose between classical voice and musical theatre,” she said, “so I’m very grateful for having done both opera and musical theatre performances to get a feel for each style.
“I am also so grateful to have been chosen to represent local festivals at the B.C. Performing Arts Provincial Music Festival four years in a row, where I am so honoured to have received first place in the Junior Classical Voice category, the Junior Musical Theatre category, the Junior Vocal Variety category and runner-up in the Intermediate Musical Theatre category.”
In addition to all of the performing arts activities, “when I was little, my parents also signed me up for karate at the JCC,” she added. “I just received my black belt in karate and became the first female black belt in the JCC karate club.”
She has always loved singing.
“My mom loves to tell the story of how I begged to be put into singing lessons because I thought it was so cool that your body is the instrument. I was also put into dance lessons at an early age, so I’ve been very involved in the performing arts world. But the first time I really knew I wanted to be on stage was at my first vocal competition, where I sang ‘Tomorrow’ from Annie. I was really nervous beforehand but, once I started singing, I enjoyed it so much that I didn’t want to leave the stage. I remember bowing for much longer than I should have. Once I started getting obsessed with listening to as many cast albums and different Broadway singers as I could, there was no turning back.”
Her sisters – Arielle is two-and-a-half years older and Omer is three years younger than Murad – are also very musical. “Arielle plays guitar and piano and Omer sings and plays piano, as well. We often put on shows in our house or just jam at the piano or with the guitar. They recently bought me a recording microphone for my birthday, so it’s been really fun playing around with that, as well.
“Omer also dances, so we dance together, too, whether it be at the studio or at home. Although my parents are not as theatrical as my sisters and I, they have come to appreciate the industry by either listening to musical theatre soundtracks on repeat in the car or taking us to New York to watch the actual Broadway productions.”
About the production she is in, Murad said, “Being in the ensemble of Cinderella is actually really hard work. In addition to being in all the major dance numbers, which are exhausting, we are used in all the scene transitions as well, so there isn’t a lot of time to sit in the dressing room. I have four different costumes and, though they are all gorgeous, my favourite is my ball gown. My favourite dance that we do is the ball sequence, because we get to waltz and get lifted a lot, in the beautiful ball gowns. It is also such a pleasure to sing Rodgers and Hammerstein’s music, which is so beautiful and elegant, even if we’re just oohing and ahhing!”
Having just finished Grade 10 at McMath Secondary, Murad plans on completing her high school education there. “I really want to continue my music education post-secondary and somehow keep theatre in my life,” she said.
While she doesn’t have any specific projects currently in the works, she said, “I am looking for any opportunities to be onstage. In the meantime, I will be participating in the Arts Club’s musical theatre summer intensive and continuing my training and education throughout the year.”
Encouraging JI readers to “come witness the magic in Cinderella,” Murad shared one of her favourite quotes from the show: “Impossible things are happening every day!”
Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella and 42nd Street run on alternating evenings until Aug. 18 at Stanley Park’s Malkin Bowl. For tickets ($30-$49), visit tuts.ca or call 604-631-2877.