IT’S one of the best loved musicals of all time. Now a new Maria is breathing new life into Sound of Music in a new-look theatre.
Katy Wheeler spoke to Verity Rushworth about stepping into the famous nun’s shoes.
SHE’S swapped the dales for Do-Re-Mis – and former Emmerdale actress Verity Rushworth says she couldn’t be happier.
After more than a decade playing Donna Windsor on the hit ITV show, the 26-year-old decided to turn her back on soaps to pursue her stage dreams.
Following a West End run as Penny Pingleton in Hairspray, she’s now donning her habit in Sound of Music after former leading star Connie Fisher quit the tour due to a throat infection.
Verity had some big shoes to fill when she took on the role full-time earlier this year, but says she’s relishing the challenge.
“There is a lot of pressure, it’s a role that everybody knows,” she explained. “I was talking to one woman who, when it opened at the cinema, went to see the film 19 times.
“But I told myself to enjoy it and not to panic. I’ve tried to put my own spin on it while also staying true to the character and so far, touch wood, the audience are enjoying it.”
Like millions of others, Verity too is a big fan of the 1965 Hollywood film of the musical which starred Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer.
She said: “I was a huge fan of the film. I’ve always loved musicals since I was a child. Sound of Music is one of those films that was always on at Christmas. I used to sing the songs all the time, now I’m in it.
“It’s such a touching story. It’s about the war, which people still relate to. It’s so uplifting, it has these really dramatic moments with songs that everyone knows and loves. It pleases everyone really.”
Speaking about her favourite scene, she said: “I love the wedding scene. I’ve been married twice now with work, in this and on Emmerdale, so I hope I haven’t jinxed it.”
The world-famous Rodgers and Hammerstein musical has been enjoying a three-week run at Newcastle’s newly-renovated Theatre Royal, where it’s proving a hit with audiences.
The theatre remained closed for six months over the summer while it underwent a £4.9million makeover.
“It’s the cleanest, newest theatre we’ve been in all year”, says Verity. “We had a front-of-house tour and everything seems really grand, you can still smell the paint. It’s a beautiful theatre, it’s a nice treat playing here.”
Verity is best known for her role as Donna Windsor which she played for 11 years, making her one of Emmerdale’s longest-running characters.
But, keen to spread her acting wings, she left the soap in 2009.
She said: “I started on Emmerdale when I was 12, I was there until I was 23.
“Leaving was a hard decision, but I knew I had to take that step. Being on a soap is stable and it would be different if I had children, but I was still young and I knew that it was now or never.”
She added: “Sound of Music is so completely different. Touring is really gruelling on your body and it’s scary being on stage every night, but you get such an adrenaline rush from it. You don’t get any of that from being on screen.
“Although I do miss Emmerdale there’s nothing like the buzz of being on stage.”
l The Sound of Music appears at Newcastle Theatre Royal until Saturday. Tickets are £14.50-£40.50 from the Theatre Royal Box Office on 08448 11 21 21 or select your own seat and book online at www.theatreroyal.co.uk.