It happens in the movies but it never happens in real life. Teenage girls simply don’t sing a couple of songs over a tinny karaoke tape, get plucked from the slush pile and signed up by the most successful composer of musicals alive. Unless you’re Andrea Ross. The 15 year old from Boston, Massachusetts has been signed by Andrew Lloyd Webber and her debut album Moon River will be released this month. The creator of genre defining musicals like Evita and Phantom of the Opera certainly knows how to pick great female singers from nowhere but Andrea may eclipse them all. She’s a superb natural actress with a commanding, vivid, stage presence and a pure, powerful soprano voice. When she sings she inhabits the soul of the song, articulating emotions she has no right to understand and throughout it all she smiles. Andrea jokes that she’s been acting since the moment she was born. Her musical career started playing the glockenspiel in an after school class in Boston but by 8 she was in The Sound of Music and talking about getting an agent. She won her first lead role in Tuck Everlasting aged 10 and it’s been a whirlwind ever since.” She’s been in Annie, Lizzie Borden, A Little Princess Fredrika in a Little Night Music (her personal favourite), the drama Ramona Quimby and has played Liesl in Sound of Music.The turning point came at 13 when she sent Lloyd Webber two songs she recorded over a bootleg karaoke backing track. His assistant heard the tracks and trapped her boss in a corner until he heard it. The next thing Andrea knew was that she was flying out to LA to audition.Andrew asked her to sing at his annual Sydmonton Festival – where he tries out new work in front of a specially invited audience. Although the concert took place the night after the Andrea got a standing ovation, only the fifth in the 30 years of the Festival.Moon River was recorded in London and produced by Lloyd Webber last year. It features Eva Cassidy’s Songbird, a delightful modern take on Moon River, stunning versions of Popular and Heart Like A Wheel as well as some lesser-known gems.

FemaleFirst were able to talk to this young rising star before she flew back home to the States about everything from shopping and singing to studying and supportive mates.

When did you first discover that you could sing?

I’ve been singing for a while and I’ve always loved it but I started to take lessons when I was about seven years old and that’s really when I started to not do as much sports or arts and more of the singing instead. I would take as many lessons as I could and then I started doing shows around that age too.

For your debut album of the same name, you’re covering the track Moon River. Everybody remembers Audrey Hepburn singing it. Are you a fan of the actress and her work?

Yes, that’s right. I love Breakfast At Tiffany’s and I just thought it was a great, great movie. It was played at my parents wedding (Laughs) and my grandparents used to sing it a lot at little family gatherings too, so it’s been in the family for a while. It’s a great song.

What’s it like being signed up by such an established Brit as Andrew Lloyd Webber?

It really is amazing. I still can’t believe it because I always used to listen to his musicals. Actually his shows were the first shows that I listened to – like Cats and Jason and His Technicolor Dream Coat. That’s what made me really fall in love with this art so to be able to work with him now is just an incredible experience.

What’s it like going from musical theatre to straight concerts?

Yeah – I mean it’s definitely different. Especially when you do venues that you know have about five or six songs that you sing instead of being in the context of a show. But it’s really fun and it’s different because you get different reactions from an audience when you’re playing in a show than when you’re in a concert. But I really like it so far it’s been fun.

Don’t you miss the support on stage a little when doing solo concerts?

No not really – as long as there is an audience, you always get a reaction, which is great. It’s still good, you know you’re not in the studio recording with one person and you don’t get anything. So it’s still really fun to do a concert.

I believe you did a concert the day after the London Bombings – was that a daunting performance for you at that particular time?

Yeah, I did a concert on Andrew’s estate actually – it was a festival and I did about a ten song little performance. It was a pretty emotional one for everyone I think just because although I don’t live here it was pretty scary cos we were there on the day. We had to leave London that day actually, so everyone was a little on edge. It was still really good though because everyone was able to kind of escape from London and we were all able to just be there together which was great.

What do you feel is so special about the chosen collection of tracks on your first album?

Well a lot of them – we were looking for ones that weren’t just big love ballads, because I am fifteen years old and we wanted to find songs that just were older songs that we could do really good renditions of. A lot of them are Andrew Lloyd Webber’s songs too. (Laughs) There are just a lot of different ones that I really like – some of them have show tune elements to them too, which brought back where I started from, so it was good.

What are you listening to on your Ipod at the moment?

I’m listening to a lot of Justin Timberlake and the Fray. Also Christina Aguilera who I love and right now I’ve just got the new Dreamgirls soundtrack. So I’m listening to a lot of stuff that’s being played on the radio. I’m still a normal teenager back at home – so I love what’s on the radio at home, but I am still listening to show tunes and classical music too.

You’re still attending a private school for your education. How difficult is it to juggle the career and your schoolwork?

Right – yeah, definitely balancing it is really difficult just because I still want to have an education and I don’t want to give that up. But it’s just the fact that my school is so supportive of what I do – that helps a lot, so I get tutored when I can back after every trip so I can get caught up. It’s definitely a lot of juggling, but my friends are really great about it too, so when I come back it feels like I really haven’t been gone away for that long.

That’s terrific – but your profile has kept on increasing, has nobody reacted any differently to you at school ?

No (Laughs) Well the good thing is that last year I didn’t really tell anyone about it because I switched to a new school. So I didn’t tell anyone about it, just so that I could get to know people and have them like me for me. Now that I’ve told them this year, everyone’s really excited for me, and they’re all asking me about it. But they still think of me as the same Andrea, which is good.

I read you want to apply to the likes of Julliard or Rada in the near future?

Yeah – those are my top schools that I would love to go to, definitely. We’re going to start checking out Rada for the next couple of trips that I make out here. But I want to definitely go on to University, just because I think education is so important for me to have, because I’ve been working so hard for it at school. I still want to go on to that, but maybe for acting just because I’m also an actress as well, so I’d like to get more experience in that.

If you had to write a musical based on a famous person’s life and you had the choice to pick somebody, who would it be and why?

Oh that’s a really good question! (Laughs) Let’s see. I’ve always really been inspired by and looked up to Bernadette Peters. She’s an American actress and she’s in a lot of theatre back at home. I’ve always wanted to model myself after here because she’s just had such an incredible life and she also started out very young and had a hard time when she was touring at such a young age. I thought that it was really interesting how she’s grown so much from that.

I would obviously love to do anything in one of Andrew’s shows. I would love to be in one. I’ve always loved his shows – I’m not just saying this because of working with him, but I would be a chair in one of his shows (Laughs) Like, I don’t even care. I guess I’ve always really liked some of the older musicals like Oklahoma and the Music Man. I love Rogers and Hammerstein or The Sound of Music, so any of the older shows I would love to be in.

You’ve just played Gabriella Montez in the theatre production of High School Musical in the States. The film is now a mega cult hit - how did you tackle such a leading role and try to make it your very own?

It really is! Yeah of course, since it was the first theatre cast of High School Musical you want to make it original and make it different from the movie. So what I tried to do is just instead of thinking this is how Vanessa (Vanessa Anne Hudgens) said this line and this is how she sang this, I kind of took it on as myself – thinking how I would say certain lines and sing instead of just thinking about the movie.

I had seen the movie a bunch of times before just because it is a cult hit now, but I didn’t watch it during the summer just so I could get my own mind into it The fact that it is on stage instead of a movie was a huge difference, I was able to make it much bigger than the movie because on stage you have to play everything up. I made little changes and obviously some lines were different, so I did have a different take on it.

Travelling, as we’ve mentioned, is a big part of your job. How do you deal with the homesickness?

Yeah – I definitely miss home a lot. I miss my friends and I miss my bed and my dog a lot. But the good thing is when my parents are out and everything kind of keeps me busy so it keeps my mind off of it. I still manage to keep in touch with my friends, I’m still texting and emailing them back home so it’s not too bad, but I’ll definitely be happy when I get back for a little while.

Did any of the songs on the Moon River album prove to be a particular challenge for you?

They were all fun to sing. None of them were too hard, but one of them that was, actually tough was the Prayer. It was kind of a different style – it was much more classical than I normally sing. I was brought up singing show tunes, that’s how I really started out and this is a very classical piece, so I had to adapt my voice to that. That was a little challenging but it came out really well for the album.

Do you keep a diary?

Actually my mum and I started to, this trip. We did on the first trip as well but it gets kind of busy and with diaries you either do it or you don’t. But when we did it, we would talk about funny things that had happened that we don’t really want to forget. Silly things that we’ve done along the way that we want to remember. As much as you think “Oh I don’t feel like doing it right now” when you do get back and you do get to read it, you’re so glad that you did it.

Do you have a crush on anybody famous?

I have a lot (Laughs). Definitely, I’ll try and narrow it down. Right now, Justin Timerlake – he’s single now, which is great. Also probably, Channing Tatum– he was in the films, She’s The Man and Step Up. He’s definitely one of my favourites.

I hear you’ve become a Top Shop addict since you’ve been over here. What was your last bargain from there?

The shirt I’m wearing is from Top Shop actually. I’ve just got some great shoes and I went there about a week ago because we needed to get some things for some of the television shows. I got a blue dress and a fab blazer and a couple of shirts. We did a big shopping spree, which was great. (Laughs)

What else does the future hold for you right now?

I’ve nothing planned right now – I’m actually going to go back home after this trip I’m doing an appearance the show “Loose Women,” the TV show on Monday, which will be good, and then I’ll go home for a while. But I’m coming back to here to do a recording for the Songs of Praise show. That won’t be shown for a little while though. Nothing bigger, because I guess we’re trying to see what the success of the album will be and what people think of it. So it all depends on that.

Moon River is released March 5th in the UK.