Stars of the soaps, stage and even the X Factor join the cast of The Rise And Fall Of Little Voice.
Corrie star Beverley Callard – best known as barmaid Liz McDonald – will swap the Rovers Return for the boards of the Grand Theatre when she stars in The Rise and Fall of Little Voice.
The Olivier award-winning comedy will play out at the city centre venue from Monday until September 29, providing audiences with a sparkling night of music, divas and romance.
The production was written and directed by Jim Cartwright and also stars Ray Quinn, best known from Dirty Dancing, The X Factor and Dancing On Ice, which he won.
The line-up will be completed by Joe McGann (Calendar Girls, Upper Hand, The Hanging Gale) Jess Robinson as Little Voice and Duggie Brown (The Comedians) as Mr Boo.
Audiences can look forward to a heart-warming tale in which shy Little Voice – or LV – spends most of her time hidden away with her late father’s record collection, perfecting her astonishing impersonations.
Her extraordinary talent remains a secret until she is overheard by local talent scout Ray Say. Determined to hit the big time, Ray sets about creating the show of the century with Little Voice as his star.
When the big night arrives, Ray is convinced that this is his last chance for fame and fortune.
The production will feature songs from some of the world’s most iconic divas, including Marilyn Monroe, Shirley Bassey and Judy Garland.
Callard has enjoyed a glittering career and as well as appearing in Coronation Street has also starred in BBC Three’s Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps, as Flo Henshaw.
She made her acting debut at the age of seven as Darius the page boy and made her TV debut in the Yorkshire TV soap Emmerdale Farm, as Angie Richards, in 1983.
She became established on Coronation Street the following year and began her sustained run as Liz McDonald in 1989.
She left the soap two years ago and her role in Little Voice is her first stage part for 10 years having sufferred a breakdown, depression and bankruptcy.
But she is looking forward to her stage return in the challenging part of LV’s alcoholic mother – especially since preparing for the role included gaining weight.
She said: “The easy bit was putting on the weight. I’ve put on two stone as I was a little bit too slim.
“I ate everything that I don’t usually eat. It’s been wonderful. I’ve eaten Chinese takeaways and pizzas. I’ve gone up from a size eight to a size 14.”
Ray Quinn finished second in the 2006 series of The X Factor – being beaten by Leona Lewis – and also won the 2009 series of Dancing on Ice.
He also starred in the Channel 4 soap Brookside as victimised teenager Anthony Murray and has recently finished a six-month run of Legally Blonde the Musical, as Warner Huntington III.
He said: “Musicals are a massive part of my life and I’ve been very lucky to have roles in two really big ones but Little Voice is a play, not a musical. There’s no singing for me to do. This is very much about getting back to the acting side.”
He added: “I’ve got a lovely part. My character Billy is a really shy kid and has a quiet life. Like Little Voice there is one thing that brings him to life and for him it’s lights.
“For Little Voice, it’s listening to the music and this is how they find each other. They’re soul mates.”
Joe McGann is well known from his role as Charlie Burrows, the housekeeper, in the TV comedy series The Upper Hand, while he has also starred in ITV’s soap Night and Day.
Jess Robinson is a comedy actress who trained at The Arts Educational School and performed in the last two series of Dead Ringers on BBC 2.
Duggie Brown is the brother of the late Coronation Street actress Lynn Perrie and is best known for his work on The Comedians.
Tickets are available from www.grandtheatre.info or at 01902 429212.