Bad Girls The Musical is based on the extremely popular ITV1 prison drama series, Bad Girls by Maureen Chadwick and Ann McManus, with music and lyrics by Kath Gotts. Bad Girls the Musical draws you into the life of ITV1’s Bad Girls’ characters and what happens to the women behind bars at Larkhall. This gritty, witty musical has a great cast, including Nicole Faraday as Shell Dockley (a role she played in the musical at The Garrick Theatre in 2007). We sat down with Nicole to find out more about her and the show.
For those that might not be familiar with your work, what have been your favourite career highlights?
I am really lucky to have worked in such varied fields as prime-time television dramas, independent British feature films, international theatre, new writing and West End musical theatre. I love that my work has been so varied .My career highlights include playing Snowball Merriman in ITV’s Bad Girls for two years (and collecting Best Drama at the Television Awards), singing onstage at the Royal Albert Hall with a 22-piece concert brass orchestra; originating the role of Shell Dockley in Bad Girls The Musical at the West Yorkshire Playhouse and The Garrick Theatre, for which I won a TMA and was a WOS Award Nominee; playing Dr Heather Lincoln in BBC’s Casualty, having grown up watching it with my medical family; working with Steven Fry on Kingdom; playing Veronica, a recurring character on the institution that is Emmerdale, my feature film premiere of Ask The Cheat at Piccadilly Vue in London’s West End, in which I play the lead, with an audience of friends and celebs and
portraying Eva Cassidy on three number one tours of the UK and Ireland, singing 28 of her songs with a live band every night in Over the Rainbow.
So Bad Girls The Musical – tell us what it’s all about…
Bad Girls The Musical is set in fictional UK Women’s Prison Larkhall. Loosely based on the storylines covered in series 1 – 3 of the smash-hit television series, it follows the trials and tribulations of a group of women behind bars, and the prison officers charged with “looking after” them.
Some people may not know that you have a long history with the Bad Girls franchise and you were in the iconic TV show. How does the musical differ from the show?
While the musical is based on the characters and storylines of series 1 – 3 of Bad Girls and was written and produced by the same team, it was conceived as a stand-alone piece of theatre to appeal to fans and non-fans of the TV show alike. There is a story arch and a definite ending, as it is adapted for theatre, whereas the TV series ran for 8 seasons.
Your character had some big stand-off moments with Yvonne Atkins, who, frankly, is terrifying. What was it like working with Linda Henry? Is she as hard in real life as she comes across on screen?
Aha yes! Both as Snowball in the TV series and as Shell in the musical I have a few run-ins with Yvonne. In the TV show, Linda played my mother-in-law who I set up to take the flack for me blowing the prison up and I was eventually responsible for the death of her son, so you can understand why there was friction. Most of my time on set, I was scared of her! In real life we get on fine and she was very complimentary of my singing at the Albert Hall for the TV Times Carol Concert! On stage Sally Dexter, who is now in Emmerdale, played Yvonne, so that was a very different take on the same role.
Who do you enjoy playing more? Shell or Snowball?
They’re both totally different. One is in the context of television and one in musical theatre, which is a completely different type of job. I will always have a soft spot for Snowball as she was my big break, however, you cannot beat live theatre and playing Shell and my association with the musical has formed a large part of my career, as I am the only person to have done every single workshop and professional production in the role (apart from the fringe production at the Union Theatre). I have also taught many workshops and masterclasses on the subject, culminating in full-scale directing a student production myself in Sitges last December at the IAB.
As well as being high entertainment value, the Bad Girls story also deals with some important real-life issues for women in prison. How do you ensure as a cast that you portray these moments sensitively? Did you have to do any research?
As a cast member of the television series you are given a huge welcome pack with a great deal of reading matter based on years of research by the writers. The cast from series one also partook in prison visits. As an actress who wants to portray the reality of prison life, albeit in a heightened fashion, I myself have done a great deal of research through reading, talking to people, documentaries and so on. I also specifically read and researched things pertaining to my own characters’ backgrounds and influences. With our workshops over the years and then a full-scale production we talked at length about the reality of prison life and our director Maggie Norris does a lot of outreach theatre work with prisoners, so she had a unique insight herself. With regards to this new production, I bring with me my wealth of knowledge and experience, but we have a very short rehearsal process which hasn’t started yet so I can’t answer about what will be expected this time around.
Which character from the series/show do you like most and why?
In the musical, Julie Saunders. In the TV show, Snowball of course. You have to empathise with someone and get under their skin to play them!
I’m really looking forward to seeing this incarnation of Bad Girls at Upstairs at the Gatehouse. Will we get to hear all the iconic lines from the TV show?
Most definitely. There are iconic lines in the musical that fans will recognise from the TV show. It is funny, but with a heart and a serious message.
What’s so special about this production and why should audiences come to see it?
I’m in it! I never thought I would get the opportunity to play Shell again. I am thrilled, as it was one of my favourite roles in my career so far. It is a new production company, which I always think you should support, a great off-West End venue with a proven track record for musicals in particular, plus it is a great piece of writing for fans and non-fans alike and it deserves another outing, as it has garnered cult status through our DVD recording of the West End production.
Thanks for having Tea With Wilma
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