Alex Sharpe is back in Celtic Woman, and this time, she's staying.

Alex Sharpe is back in Celtic Woman, and this time, she's staying.

Sharpe joined the Emerald Isle sirens for a 2008 spring tour, filling in for original CW Lisa Kelly after the birth of Kelly's child. The plan all along was for the situation to stay temporary, and Sharpe, a Dublin native and veteran of stage productions in London, and with a young son of her own, was comfortable with that.

Then another original member of the troupe, Orla Fallon, decided to retire from the group to pursue a solo career, and a permanent spot opened up. Assured her son would be welcome to travel -- there are now a few young children being tutored daily on the tour -- she agreed to sign on permanently.

"It's funny how things work out," she told The Beat from a tour stop in Chicago. "The girls are in people's hearts, so they can't help comparing" her to those for whom she has stepped in, "but the fans have been so supportive, very complimentary."

She said subbing for Kelly was a smooth transition, given that their voices are very similar. Now in Fallon's place, the fit has required more consideration.

"Orla has that traditional Celtic voice, while I come from musical theater," she said.

Sharpe credited musical director David Downes with recognizing and adapting to this.

"The show has two new songs that are my own, that allow me to kind of put my own stamp on it" she said, listing Cyndi Lauper's True Colors and You'll Be in My Heart from Disney's Tarzan as the new selections.

Not like the ensemble had to deviate from the norm to add the new songs. Celtic Woman has never been exclusive to Irish folk music, incorporating classical numbers, pop songs and more in its beautifully-staged, tightly-scripted production that has won over fans on PBS and in concert.

Sharpe said the approach makes sense, citing her own upbringing as an example.

"I didn't really grow up with (Irish) music," she explained. "Of course, while I was growing up those songs would be sung at gatherings or when you're at your grandparents' and everyone's had a few Guinnesses. But I grew up with a mixture of styles."

Sharpe said she is enjoying concert performances after coming from the theatre, suggesting the two are not as different as you might think.

"Any time you're signing you're telling a story, so you have to approach it like it's a journey," she said. "At the end of the day it's all about sharing with the audience."

Read more from The Beat's interview with Celtic Woman's Alex Sharpe in the BeatBlog at www.ThisWeekNews.com.