Joanna Riding has Tea With Wilma
Tell me about yourself and some of your career highlights so far.
Hi Wilma, I’m a mum of two, a 7yr old girl and a 5yr old boy, and I’ve just finished a 20wk run as Babe Williams in The Pajama Game playing opposite the gorgeous Mr Michael Xavier.
My career highs are; my West End debut aged 24, as Sally Smith in Me&My Girl at The Adelphi, opposite Brian Conley, the four incredible productions I was involved with at The National Theatre during the nineties; Carousel, A Little Night Music, Guys And Dolls and Oh What A Lovely War, The Witches of Eastwick and then My Fair Lady at Drury Lane playing opposite Alex Jennings.
Career low was playing a talking dog in Italy for a children’s language video. I thought I was playing the girl presenter until I was handed a big, heavy, shaggy dog costume. It was 30 degrees in Sienna!
Tell me about the upcoming show you are doing and what people can expect to see if they come along on the night.
The cabaret I’m doing on the evening of Oct 9th is a little show of two halves. The first being about how I got started singing and a retrospective of the shows I’ve done up to My Fair Lady, and the second is just a bit of fun, especially the Witches of Eastwick section where I will have two fantastic friends joining me on stage, the wonderful Misses Anna Jane Casey and Cassidy Janson.
I’m a fan of the work of Jason Robert Brown, so there’s a couple of his songs in there and then one or two surprises.
I’m very fortunate to be accompanied on the piano by the brilliant pianist/MD/arranger/composer Miss Jennifer Whyte. She plays so beautifully.
Have you ever had any funny/disastrous on-stage experiences?
The funniest moment I ever had on stage was in The Witches of Eastwick during the last Sat matinee which is, as many know, when mischief reigns. Instead of a mini figurine, with which the witches perform a voodoo spell on Daryl Van Horne ( Clarke Peters) having realised he is the devil, I brought on a life-size blow-up doll painted as a likeness of Clarke. The real giggles started however, when our fake voodoo pins actually pierced the skin of the doll, and for the next 5 mins not a word could be sung for the hysteria caused by the sight of this big rubber Clarke lookalike, naked but for a pair of red Y fronts, raspberrying its way across the stage with a life of its own until, spent and utterly deflated, it finally came to a halt. Priceless but very naughty.
You’ve been in so many great shows. Are there any theatre roles that you would still like to have a go at playing?
I’d like to play Maggie in Hobson’s Choice on the West End Stage. It’s a part I have already played albeit very briefly at the Manchester Royal Exchange, and we were destined for the Garrick but it all went wrong at the 11th hour. I love playing feisty types!
If you could be the opposite sex for a day, what theatre role would you like the play?
If I could change sex, I’d love to have a crack at Bobby in Sondheim’s ‘Company’ or Billy in Billy Elliot, though I’d have to change a great deal more than my sex for that one!
What are your thoughts on theatre etiquette? What things annoy you when you are performing or when you are in the audience?
Phones of course can be annoying especially in intimate moments, but I get a lot more cross as a fellow audience member at rude and selfish behaviour. Sweetie wrappers frustrate me a little when I’m on stage though. The harder one tries to unwrap quietly, the longer it goes on and becomes a performance in itself!
Why do you think people should come and see your cabaret show?
I don’t think people SHOULD come to see my cabaret, but I’d like it if they could and would.
I’m not very comfortable blowing my own trumpet. It doesn’t sit well with me. I just want to have a bit of fun looking back, and it might be nice for those who’ve seen my work to go down memory lane with me, or if not, to just enjoy a real mix of musical theatre songs.
Thanks for having Tea With Wilma
See An Evening With Joanna Riding at the Delfont Room on Thursday 9 October 2014