Coronation Street legend, Beverley Callard has taken to the stage for her role in the Rocky Horror Show, and she says it’s the perfect opportunity to have some fun in turbulent times.
The much-loved musical will run at the theatre for three weeks, as part of a wider UK tour, with Beverley playing the role of the narrator exclusively for the Manchester show.
Bev, who plays Weatherfield icon Liz McDonald in the Corriie, is relishing the opportunity to be in the cult musical.
“I think people go and see many productions of it because they love it and if it’s near to them, if Rocky Horror Show is on, they will probably go and see it if they can,” she said.
“But I think this is special because the cast are, as I say, they are so wonderful and talented and not only are they amazing singers, they are amazing dancers and I just think [the audience] will really love it.
“In these days, all we hear about is Brexit, you know, give us a break and just go out and have some fun! That’s what I think.”
The role is Beverley’s first major theatre performance for a number of years.
She said: “It was really different because I was on stage last year in Manchester but just for one night, just as a one off. And before then I think it’s five years since I’ve been on stage and I think you should push yourself to do it. That’s why I wanted to be an actor in the first place.”
“[The show] approached me about the role. And to be honest, I asked Coronation Street, because we have to ask permission to do anything, and of course I’ve been so busy in the [Coronation] Street story lines and I knew I was quite quiet for once in January February. And then when they asked me if I could do the Rocky Horror show, I would have been broken hearted if Coronation Street would have said no.
“When they asked me, I couldn’t believe it and I just thought, I can’t say no. And when [Coronation Street] said I could do it, I was just delighted.
Beverley certainly can’t be accused of taking it easy as she is balancing the role of Narrator alongside her day job on the cobbles as Liz McDonald.
“Obviously, I can only do the Manchester show, because I’m off work this week but next week I’m doing Coronation Street in the day and then here in the evening, so it’ll be full on but it’ll be worth it.”
So how is she feeling about her big return to the stage?
“I have to tell you I’m absolutely terrified, I have to be honest.
“The company have done a few weeks in Brighton, that’s where it opened, but I couldn’t do Brighton because of my day job on Coronation Street.
“So I had a day’s rehearsal with just the company manager and the director on Friday, then the weekend off, and then I rehearsed yesterday with the whole cast and they were amazing. It was like sitting and watching an episode of the series, Fame. I am telling you now, they are amazing.
“The guy who plays Frank N Furter is amazing, Janet and Brad are amazing. Rif Raff is amazing. They’re just fantastic, so I’m so excited but I am really scared as well. I wish I could’ve had longer to rehearse.”
Somehow, speaking to Beverley, I don’t imagine that her fear is going to be apparent to any of the people watching the show over the next few weeks. She oozes a warm, friendly confidence, even when she’s talking about her nerves.
The role of the narrator is being played by various actors across the tour, including comedian Dom Joly and TV presenter Alison Hammond. What does Beverley hope to bring to the role?
“I’m the first woman ever!” she states proudly.
“I hope I will bring something different, just from the fact that I am a woman but also I just think each role you play, even though you stick to the text religiously, you have to make that role your own and as believable as possible.
“So, I’ve got a few things up my sleeve. Hopefully the audience will love it, but if they’re coming to see Liz McDonald on stage, they would be disappointed. Because the Narrator is nothing like Liz at all and that’s good.”
Beverley has been on our screens for a long time and alongside her TV career, she has also performed in various stage productions.
How does acting on screen compare with the stage?
“Well the biggest thing is you can’t go for another take! And you think, ‘please don’t let me mess it up’.
“I love both, honestly, I’m so fortunate to get paid for something I love doing, I do thank my lucky stars all the time for that.
“I love working in television, I love the intimacy of working with a camera and being as naturalistic as possible. But I love theatre, and I love having that audience there, responding in the moment to what you are doing.”
The Rocky Horror Show is returning for its 2019 tour due to public demand, and since its creation, it is a show that continues to be very popular amongst audiences.
“I actually can’t believe it, because the film was made in 1973, believe it or not, and it must have been in those days, so shocking. But I love it because it’s naughty and it’s really on the edge but it’s not offensive to anyone. It’s just great, it’s just accepting of ‘you can be whatever you want to be’, and I love that side of it.”
“But also I think because it’s risqué and the audience can join in – I just think it’s an amazing night out. I also think as a piece of theatre, I think Richard O’Brien is a genius.
“And of course, it so intimidating because there is so much audience feedback. They are raucous, the audience, and they shout the rudest things and so you think ‘I hope I’m not lost for words!'”
It’s a production with a considerable cult following, that many people will go to see over and over again, dressing up in risqué outfits as their favourite character from the show.
So are there any more theatre roles coming up for Beverley Callard in Manchester?
“Yeah I have actually … but I can’t talk about it yet.”
So, watch this space for more exciting theatre news from this Manchester star.
The Rocky Horror Show is on at the Opera House Manchester from Wednesday, January 9 to Saturday, January 26.
Tickets are available from ATG here.