The first stage adaptation of Leeds-born Louise Rennison’s best-selling novels about fourteen-year old Georgia Nicolson premieres in Leeds next week, promising ‘a theatrical extravaganza of teenage love, life, friendship and cats’. Sue Casson went along to meet Georgia and her Ace Gang…

1. It’s about teenagers…

Naomi Peterson (Georgia):“I hate to say it, but she’s a typical 14-year old: overdramatic, impetuous, impulsive, embarrassed by her parents, loves her friends and always thinking about boys. Her mood swings are intense, but she’s also crazy and fun. It’s weird to go back to that age and revisit these emotions”.

Rachel Caffrey (Jas): “Jas is Georgia’s best friend, her voice of reason, but also extremely melodramatic. She wants to be an actress, and aspires to be a prefect and successful, so she’s a stable best friend but she lacks tact in how she deals with Georgia and doesn’t always say the nicest things to her”.

Yemisi Oyinloye (Ellen): “My character’s a bit confused, a bit puzzled and dithers about so she’s a bit geeky and great fun to play”.

Emily Houghton (Rosie): “She’s the class clown, funny, whacky and lots of fun, but also a force to be reckoned with”.

2.…and everyone was one once (or is/will be)

Yemisi: I’m eighteen now. I’ve changed a lot since I was fourteen, but I wasn’t much like Ellen then, anyway, so it’s been interesting looking at the world from a different teenager’s viewpoint.

Naomi: Everything is such a big deal at that age: your first snog, first crush, first fight.

Emily: It’s all about your relationships with people, especially boys. Our characters attend a girls’ school, as I did. When you’re fourteen, boys are a completely different world. You want to know everything about them and yet know nothing. You forget how traumatic it is to be a teenager but also how quickly you bounce back. Next day, you’ve forgotten everything and simply move on.

Rachel: When you’re fourteen, your friends are your whole world. You think you’ll be together forever. Boys come and go, but you have that unit. Fourteen-year old girls are so silly and so brutally honest, but you start to lose that as you age. This play’s about Georgia’s relationships, with her cat, her sister and her friends. It’s seeing that web being built.

3. It’s a world premiere

Rachel: There’s great freedom during rehearsals. I think that’s what every actor wants; just to play and make discoveries.

Emily: We’ve had the time and space to create the world together, as a team. The books provide a lot of information about Ellen and Rosie, and the play’s still in development, so some of the scenes that have been cut provided useful details about them, too.

Yemisi: I read the books and watched the film as a teenager. In the film, the characters, especially Ellen and Rosie, aren’t very developed, so we’ve had a lot more freedom to explore, which is a great challenge that every actor wants.

Naomi: We’ve spent four weeks finding the fun of this gang, just discovering. I can’t remember when I laughed so much. Because it’s a new play, a lot of it is not fixed, and Ryan (McBryde), the director, gives us the freedom to make our own choices, mess around and find the relationships ourselves.

4. It’s co-written by local writers (Louise Rennison & Mark Catley)

Emily: Louise is a local writer who’s been immensely successful in her career and is bringing something new to her local theatre. It’s such an honour to have the writers with us. It’s so rare. Everyone’s got such a bubbly, positive attitude, so any suggestions are warmly welcomed, and it’s like we’re creating the play together as opposed to following a rigorous script.

Rachel: Louise’s books are based on her own life, and are essentially her diaries. She felt very emotional on the first day when she saw the big banner outside the theatre. She’s always wanted to see her books on stage. Leeds is her hometown, and this is a great regional theatre, with a lovely homely vibe. Louise’s identity is here in Leeds and the play is set here, so hopefully it will mean a lot to those who come and see it. Louise and Mark have written it together and have attended most of the rehearsals, so we’ve all been working with them and Ryan.

Yemisi: Louise is inside Georgia’s head as Georgia is basically her, but it’s great to have Mark here too, as he understands the male characters very well, so it’s a really nice collaboration between the two writers and that adds an extra element.

5. It’s a bright, energetic comedy for all ages

Emily: It’s always exciting to see a new play. It’s light-hearted but with a true heart. It’s great entertainment, and that’s what people want, especially in a recession: something joyous that’s fun and a good laugh. It’s also been an exciting challenge for us to work with the puppets; going blind into Blind Summit’s world, as it were.

Naomi: I’ve never had so much fun working on a show. We’ve all been in hysterics. I have to keep reminding myself that this is a job! It’s a comedy and a love story. It has heart, romance, laughs, nostalgia, and great music for the boys. It’s a massive two hours of energy, and Blind Summit’s puppets are absolutely fantastic.

Rachel: We play it completely straight, not for laughs, although we’re keenly aware where they are, as life is serious when you’re a teenager. There’re some very touching parts, some really tender moments. It’s bright and colourful. The set is wonderful, so it’s a treat aesthetically as well. It’s uplifting on a grey, rainy winter’s evening. The audience will feel like they’re part of Georgia’s world and I love it when theatre’s like that.

Angus, Thongs and Even more Snogging at the West Yorkshire Playhouse from 10 Feb - 3 March, followed by a national tour in the autumn.