It’s back! A ‘little’ show we call our own

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Shout it from the roof-tops – the Rise and Fall of Little Voice is on its way home.

Since it was filmed in Scarborough, with Michael Caine, Ewan McGregor, Brenda Blethyn, Jane Horrocks and Jim Broadbent, the town has claimed it as its own.

The Rise and Fall of Little Voice show banner on the Futurist theatre. Picture by Andrew Higgins sn123107f   30/07/12 30/07/12

The Rise and Fall of Little Voice show banner on the Futurist theatre. Picture by Andrew Higgins sn123107f 30/07/12 30/07/12

It was, though, originated by Lancashire playwright Jim Cartwright and was performed at the National Theatre and then at the Aldwych in the West End.

Cartwright is directing the latest staging of his award-winning play which arrives at the Futurist for a week-long run on Monday September 10.

The cast is led by former Coronation Street landlady Beverley Callard as Mari Hoff, Joe McGann as Ray Say, Ray Quinn as Billy, Jess Robinson as LV and Duggie Brown as Mr Boo.

The play is about a young woman with a talent for imitiating some of the greatest female singers – includingEdith Piaf and Judy Garland and, in the latest version, Barbara Streisand.

She is overheard by Ray Say – described by Joe as a down at heel Simon Cowell – who then, with the help of her mother Mari, sets about trying to exploit her talent – starting with a gig at Mr Boo’s.

They do not reckon on LV’s iron will to resist their ambitions or the support she gets from the shy Billy.

For Beverley, who for 21 years played Liz in Coronation Streeet, the role of Mari was one she could not refuse.

She has put on two stone to play the part. “She drives the play,” said Beverley. “She’s amazing. Yes, she’s an alcholic and a neglectful mum, she’s brash and appears hard-faced but she is also a widow and there is a lot of pain inside her.

“Ray Say is her last chance, her knight on a white charger.”

Joe who plays Ray is under no illusions as to whathis character is like.

“He is a loser and thinks Little Voice is his ticket to better things. He is a chancer, a fly by night,” said Joe.

He was at the Futurist in the sell-out Calendar Girls last year and played the gentle, loving husband who was dying of cancer. The contrast could not be greater but that is how Joe likes it.

“It is more interesting to play people with an edge. You don’t want vanilla all time,” he said.

“That’s what I love about my job – I can go from playing Hilter’s right hand man and a killer in the Resistable Rise of Arturo Ui to Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof.”

On television Joe is probably Best known for his role in The Upperhand and was also in Merseybeat and impressed on Celebrity Masterchef.

But, in the past years, the theatre has been his place of work – from musicals to high drama.

“I started out in the theatre, it’s why I wanted to be an actor. I am blessed, truly fortunate to be working. I will be like Tommy Cooper, I will keep working until they drag me from the stage,” he said.

“What I like about the Rise and Fall of Little Voice is that it is a piece of theatre that doesn’t mind being entertainment.”

He is a fan of the Futurist – which has been in the shadow of uncertainty for a number of years. “I enjoyed being there in Calendar Girls. The audiences were fabulous and proved there is an appetite for theatre in Scarborough.

“The Futurist is a venue that deserves to be saved,”he said.

Neither is Duggie Brown a stranger to the Scarborough stage. He played Patrick, the father of the Brontes in Northern Broadsides’ We Are Three Sisters at the Stephen Joseph in October last year.

Again it is the variety which keeps Duggie interested. His road to success started with The Comedians – and he is still doing stand-up. He has a regular Sunday gig in Blackpool for the season. But, he said, while his contemporaries were raking in cash from their routines, Duggie, who is based in Yorkshire, took himself off to the Royal Court to learn the craft of acting. It was a move that has paid off. He is 72 and the offers of character parts keep coming. In Little Voice he plays Mr Boo. “Jim Cartwright has given me some leeway with the part. I welcome the audience as though they were entering a club.

“He is an amiable character and this is a nice challenge for me,” he said.

Actress, comedienne and impressionist Jess Robinson steps into the shoes of LV, a role originally written for Jane Horrocks. The member of the Dead Ringers team is relishing the challenge of making this part her own. As well as singing Judy Garland and Billie Holliday show-stoppers Jess will stretching the vocal chords to include Julie Andrews, Marlene Dietrich and Streisand.

But it is not all about the singing. “It will be a challenge to find my own voice as LV,” said Jess who also featured in the Impressions Show with John Culshaw.

“I see LV as a shy girl, mourning her dad and finding solace in music because she can’t relate to her mum. This could set me on a different path. I love comedy and impressions but I also want to do things that don’t require me to imitiate someone else,” said Jess.