|Helen Noble singing "Killer Queen."|
Brief Encounter With … Helen Noble
Date: 19 October 2009
Lancashire actress, Helen Noble is probably best-known for playing Abby Davies in Hollyoaks, a role which she returned to in 2005, to make her final exit. Since then she has appeared on the Manchester stage in pantomime, in the UK tour of Tim Firth's The Safari Party - opposite Christopher Timothy. Helen also opened her own performing arts school - TrEAD (Training in Expressive Arts & Drama) in Liverpool with her fiancé Graham Tudor (West End Musical Theatre Actor) and best friend Sarah Jayne Dunn (Hollyoaks). The school offers training in all elements of performing for 7-18 year olds along and helps to develop confidence and social skills. Helen is about to star in Back To Broadway, which arrives at the Garrick Theatre in Altrincham next month. We talk to her about her career and her connection to local children's hospice, Francis House.
Tell us a bit about Back to Broadway. What can audiences expect?
If you like musical theatre you cannot miss out on this show. Back to Broadway
takes audiences on a journey through Broadway past and present giving them a real taste of each well loved musical. The show differs from other musical theatre collaboration shows as it really is a high energy performance as appose to a concert version. We have a brilliant cast of West End and UK Tour performers who all say that this job is the most challenging they have ever done. The cast show their versatility as they portray so many different characters and the show is linked together cleverly using all elements of music, dance and drama. We aim to take the audience on an emotional rollercoaster as well as open their eyes to musicals that they may not have already seen. Rest assured the audience leave the theatre on an absolute high and are begging for more! It’s an amazing feeling as a performer to get that kind of reaction each night.
Which songs amongst the set-list are your favourites to perform and why?
Personally I love the feel good musicals as the audience reaction to these is incredible. We cover many classical musicals but we then come out and rock it up with something like "We Will Rock You" and the challenge that it takes as a performer both mentally and vocally at this point is huge! I get such an adrenalin rush at this stage in the show as the audience go wild for it! On the other hand I love Les Miserables. To have the opportunity to sing songs from this musical is amazing for me, something I could never have imagined doing on a professional stage. It’s a real achievement and it’s also the point when I usually get most emotional. I can feel the audience feel it too and that’s a really special moment for me.
You clearly love musical theatre. Where did this passion begin?
I’ve loved watching and listening to musical theatre for as long as I can remember. My parents love it and took me to the theatre whenever they could afford to when I was young. I remember Phantom of the Opera was the first show I saw in the West End when I was about 8. From then on I always dreamt of being on the stage but I was a very quiet child and nobody would ever have believed I would be a performer! I then took my acting career quite seriously and the passion I had for musical theatre was put on hold. I am now thrilled that I’m having the opportunity to not only sing and dance on stage but perform so many different excerpts from my favourite musicals. It’s a challenge every night so you could say I’m fulfilling my dream!
How did you come to hear about Francis House?
I met Kirsty Howard in 2004 when I did pantomime at the Manchester Opera House. Kirsty was 9 years old at the time and loved the Chuckle Brothers so she came to watch the panto and we all met her after the show. Kirsty has been an amazing inspiration to all generations and I remember how happy and brave she appeared when we first met. This is when I first ever heard about the work of Francis House. I’m delighted now that I’m not only performing in a great show but every Back to Broadway performance helps to raise money for a Children’s Hospice and our Altrincham show is in aid of Francis House. Kirsty has recently celebrated her 14th birthday and it seemed an ideal opportunity to invite her along to the show. Kirsty loves the theatre and is attending as a representative for Francis House. I can’t wait to see her again and I know it will be a very special night for us both.
You hope to raise a great deal of money. What does the cash go?
Yes we do. A percentage of ticket sales go directly to Francis House so the more we sell the more of a success it will be for the Hospice. The charity will also be there on the night for people to make voluntary contributions. This is a priority. All charities are struggling under the current climate but hospices especially. They get very little funding and rely on community fundraising. Without donations they cannot continue their incredible work which involves offering medical and emotional support to not only the children but also to the families. The hospice aims to offer a quality of life to these children and they truly deserve it. It costs millions of pounds a year to continue this work and Back to Broadway aim to have raised at least £40,000 this year for Children’s Hospices around the country.
Hollyoaks has changed since you were last there. Have you any plans to go back?
It certainly has changed! I hardly know anyone there anymore!! It’s weird to hear people refer to me as ‘old school’ Hollyoaks! It makes me sound so old! I’m incredibly proud of the show though and having been part of its development. It’s where I started out and learnt my trade. I’m so happy that it is finally being recognised up there alongside the respected soaps like Corrie and Eastenders. I know how much work goes into producing Hollyoaks from both the cast and the crew. It’s intense and it used to upset me when people made negative comments about it. It just proves how strong the team are though to have finally come out on top. Of course it would be brilliant to make an appearance again one day but I think Abby would be a bit lost in the village nowadays! She has no friends left!
You are reteamed with Sarah Jayne Dunn (who is also enjoying success on stage) soon on television. What made you want to cook on telly?
Yes we recently filmed an episode of Ready Steady Cook! Sarah is one of my bestest friends and we run an acting school together in Liverpool that we opened in 2007. People are used to seeing us out and about together and we both love cooking so it was hilarious when we were asked to go on the show and compete against each other! I say we love cooking but neither of us are that good at it! I’m pretty certain our students will have a right laugh when they see it though! Will it be a green pepper or red tomato day?? Who knows?!
-Helen Noble was speaking to Glenn Meads
Back To Broadway is at the Altrincham Garrick Theatre on Sunday, 8th November and tickets are priced £16. Visit the website for further information.
- by Glenn Meads
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