'Terrified' usher stands in for concert soprano
It is a story that a classical singer could only dream of coming true.
Milly Forrest, a music student who was working as an usher, found herself stepping on to the stage at Wigmore Hall as a late replacement after a soprano called in sick.
The 23-year-old, who is training to be a classical singer, had auditioned at the prestigious classical venue before and been advised that her time would come when her voice matures.
But it came much sooner than expected, leaving Milly “terrified” ahead of the biggest performance of her life.
She told Sky News: “[I was] so scared, but because I knew the stage so well that was slightly more reassuring!”
The music student had just 36 hours to prepare but very nearly missed out on the chance altogether.
“I stupidly left my phone at home on the Wednesday afternoon,” she said.
“I got back in the evening and there were all these missed calls but luckily I got in there.”
Wigmore Hall’s director John Gilhooly said he nearly looked elsewhere.
“We were scrambling around to reach her, I got others to try and call her for about three hours,” he told Sky News.
“In the end I said ‘if we don’t hear from her by 5pm we’ll have to ask someone else in order to give them time to prepare. Then she called at ten to five!”
The season’s closing concert received five-star reviews and Mr Gilhooly says Milly gave an “auspicious debut”.
“She’s an outstanding singer,” he said. “This is perhaps the beginning of something and it is a great joy to help a young artist.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if we use her again, it is a voice of quality.
“Usually one is closer to 30 years old when things start happening in the operatic world, so we’ll be keeping an eye on her.”
Milly isn’t expecting to step into the big time just yet.
For now, she’s happy to return to her front of house role, collecting coats and tearing up tickets, while she studies for a Master’s degree.
“There’s plenty more I need to know,” she said. “I really enjoy my shifts here, we get paid to hear these fantastic musicians.”