INTERVIEW: Diana Vickers, The Rocky Horror Show, Sunderland Empire

Diana Vickers in The Rocky Horror Show

Diana Vickers in The Rocky Horror Show

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Pull on your suspenders and dust off your feather boas - Rocky Horror is back!

A new tour of the classic cult musical is on the road and will be time warping into Wearside next month.

The Rocky Horror Show is heading to Sunderland

The Rocky Horror Show is heading to Sunderland

The new line-up features X Factor’s Diana Vickers, Ben Freeman from Emmerdale, S Club 7’s Paul Cattermole and The Voice contestant Liam Tamne,

Diana, who shot to fame after appearing in the 2008 series of the hit ITV talent show, says she’s enjoying getting stuck into her new role in the risqué musical.

Today aged 24, Diana wasn’t even a twinkle in her dad’s eye when the Richard O’Brien-penned musical first got pulses racing at its debut in 1973, but she has fond memories of the film it spawned, The Rocky Horror Picture Show

“I definitely was aware of the film. I had a few memories of the musical, crazy bizarre memories. The film though, I remember being spectacular,” she said.

The cast in action

The cast in action

The new tour kicked off a few weeks ago in Brighton where Diana got her first taste of the notoriously enthusiastic Rocky fan base, who are famed for dressing up at performances.

“We opened in Brighton and the audience was so fun and fabulous,” she said. “Some of them religiously follow the script and shout out every single time. We can rehearse that stuff, other times you get some crazy heckles, it’s madness. Then some nights people just want to listen. As a performer, it mixes it up for us and keeps it fresh.

“But I have to control my eyes sometimes as you’ll be on stage and there’ll be a man in a basque on the front row singing his heart out. You can’t help but get sucked into the world.” Diana is no stranger to the stage after appearing in the West End production of The Rise and Fall of Little Voice, for which she won the Whatsonstage.com Theatregoers’ Choice Awards London Newcomer of the 
Year.

She then went on to star in the West End production of Duck House alongside Ben Miller and Simon Shepherd.

Diana and Ben Freeman

Diana and Ben Freeman

But she says this show, in which she plays Janet Weiss, is a little more racy than the rest.

“The show pushes the boundaries and it’s suggestive and cheeky, but never vulgar,” she said. “I love doing the bedroom scene. When we first rehearsed it I was giggling like a schoolgirl, and so were the boys. But it’s great fun.”

She added: “I’ve done Little Voice, but this is very different. The whole ensemble, harmonies and costumes, it’s different to what I’ve done before.”

It was music that gave Lancashire-born Diana her first moment in the spotlight. After honing her performance skills on the X Factor, where she was mentored by Cheryl Cole, she signed a record deal with RCA Records and went on to hit the top spot with her debut single and album

Diana Vickers

Diana Vickers

Despite a promising start in the pop charts, she says she’s happy doing musicals - for now.

“Musical theatre was something I always did outside of school. Although I went down the pop star route, my aim was always to do this and I’m lucky that it’s panned out the way I wanted,” she said.

“I suffer really badly with nerves, and still do now,” Diana added. “I was very young on X Factor, but I guess when you’re young you just get stuff done. It was such a great experience and one I’ll remember for the rest of my life.

“I do still watch the show, not religiously, but I like watching the talent. I think there was a good group of people this year.”

Diana is touring in a version of The Rocky Horror Show created for its 40th anniversary, which will see her hitting the road around the country for the next year.

It tells the story of Brad and his fiancée Janet, two squeaky clean college kids who meet Dr Frank’n’Furter by chance when their car breaks down outside his house while on their way to visit their former college professor. And features toe-trapping tracks including Science Fiction/Double Feature, Dammit Janet and floor-filler, The Time-Warp.

Speaking of the future, Diana said: ““I want to do more TV and film and I love the comedy scene, so I’d love to do more of that. I’m really getting my kicks out of musical theatre but I never say never, so you never know about going back to music.”

l The Rocky Horror Show will be at Sunderland Empire from February 15 -20. For tickets visit the Box Office on High Street West, Tel. 0844 871 3022 or visit www.ATGtickets.com/Sunderland