Little voice’s big impact on Beverley Callard

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THE Little Voice which became a big film hit is hitting the road in a new production of the musical which is running in the region this week. Katy Wheeler speaks to one of its stars while Jane O’Neill went along to review the show.

She became a firm Coronation Street favourite in her role as barmaid Liz Mcdonald before going on to tickle ribs as Flo Henshaw, Donna’s madcap mum in BBC Three sitcom Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps.

Now she’s relishing the opportunity of treading the boards as fun-loving, out-of-control Mari, mum to Little Voice in The Rise and Fall of Little Voice.

The Olivier Award-winning hit West End show is on its first UK tour and Bev says she’s loving every minute of live theatre.

She said: “Jim Cartwright, the author and director of the show invited me to meet him early in 2012.

“Shortly after that the producer invited me out for lunch and offered me the part. I love the play so much I immediately said yes.”

Bev is of course best known for her TV work, but she is relishing the chance to stretch her acting muscles on the stage.

“They are both challenging in very different ways,” she explained.

“The great thing about theatre is that once you have learnt the piece and the character, that’s it – unlike TV where you are constantly learning new scripts on a daily basis.

“One pressure about live theatre is that you’re in front of a live audience every night, but this is also the most exciting thing.

“You get an immediate reaction to the performance so you have to make sure you give it everything.”

She added: “I’m so glad to be back on stage, performing in front of a live audience every night.

“The response has been fantastic.

“This is such a fantastic show to be part of.”

Beverley stars alongside Ray Quinn in the production, who’s appeared in TV shows Brookside and X Factor as well as theatre shows Dirty Dancing and Grease, as Billy and introduces Jess Robinson as Little Voice.

The show, which inspired the hit 1998 film Little Voice, tells the tale of shy Little Voice who spends most of her time immersed in her late father’s record collection and perfecting her astonishing impersonations, much to the dismay of her fun-loving, out-of-control mother Mari.

Overheard singing by Ray Say, a hapless talent scout and Mari’s man of the moment, Little Voice is propelled to stardom as Ray sets about creating the show of the century in a dingy local workingmen’s club.

With an agent from London coming and everything counting on this one performance, Mari and Ray’s ticket to the big time rests squarely on Little Voice’s shoulders.

* The Rise and Fall of Little Voice is at Newcastle Theatre Royal until Saturday.

Tickets are from £9 and can be bought from the Theatre Royal Box Office on 08448 11 21 21 or select your own seat and book online at www.theatreroyal.co.uk

REVIEW: Little Voice, Theatre Royal Newcastle, until Saturday.

A LITTLE girl with a big voice is wowing theatre audiences.

Mouse-like Little Voice spends all her time listening to Sixties pop divas and hiding a secret talent to impersonate them.

Bullied and neglected by her drunken mother Mari (Beverley Callard), the painfully shy LV is literally pushed on stage by swaggering talent scout Ray Say (Simon Thorp), who Mari has fixed her false lash-lined sights on.

Watching Jess Robinson contorting with shyness as Little Voice was painful at times.

But when she finally opened her mouth to sing – head to toe in sparkling silver sequins – and really let rip, it was fantastic.

Tina Turner, Marilyn Monroe, Shirley Bassey, Judy Garland – we were treated to near-perfect renditions of them all.

The show is set in the grubby glamour of a Northern social club, presided over by veteran entertainer Mr Boo (Duggie Brown), delivering smooth patter and audience participation, to a mixed response.

Perhaps theatre–goers were feeling fatigue from panto season.

There’s a host of darker themes which aren’t resolved by the end of the show, for the little girl without a name, love or a father.

However comedy comes from shrieking Mari and her monosyllabic “fat friend” Sadie (Sally Plumb).

Her neglected two-up, two-down house and her new phone are more precious than her troubled daughter, who strikes up a tentative friendship with equally shy phone engineer Billy (Ray Quinn).

But will Little Voice become the star that posturing Ray and the increasingly desperate Mari crave?

Or will she fade back into her bedroom, clutching records left by her dead father?

Jane O’Neill