Thursday, 29 May 2014

INTERVIEW: Sugababe Heidi Range, star of Happy Days - The New Musical

INTERVIEW: Sugababe Heidi Range, star of Happy Days - The New Musical - North Devon Journal

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: May 29, 2014
heidi range in character leaning on motorbike with pink tight top and hot pants: Heidi Range of The Sugarbabes is starring in Happy Days.
Heidi Range of The Sugarbabes is starring in Happy Days.

 Rosanna Rothery finds out about two important females in Sugababe Heidi Range's life – Betty and Brenda.

IF someone had their way, former Sugababe Heidi Range wouldn't be strutting the stage in costumes like this dazzling pink tie top and hotpant number in the picture. Instead of belting out big numbers as Fonzie's love interest in the stage version of Happy Days, she would be in her dressing room lavishing affection on them.
That someone is her pug puppy, Betty.
"She knows my first costume and she knows when I am going to leave the dressing room," Heidi laughs. "She starts getting upset and blocking the door."
Apparently, Betty joins Heidi backstage every night while she tours across the country in the high-energy stage version of the hit Fifties-themed TV show. Betty's familiar presence is something of a comfort to her when she's on the road.
"She just stays in the dressing room while I'm on stage," she says. "Everyone loves her. If anyone's having a day when they feel a bit down or fed up they say: 'Can we just go and get a cuddle off Betty?' It's nice having her with me and I get less homesick."
The former Sugababe chats enthusiastically, in warm, Scouse tones, about her role as Pinky in the musical.
"She is quite feisty, sassy and puts Fonzie in his place – so it's quite fun."
To get into character, Heidi has a special ritual which involves putting on a wig, complete with Fifties-style curls.
"It holds the style better than my hair would and it even has a name," she says.
Apparently the hairpiece is called Brenda. "Once I get my wig on I feel like Pinky not Heidi," she says. "I love wearing it. It means I don't really have to wash my hair that often. It gets put under a wig everyday. It makes my hair grow because I'm not styling it everyday."
She also loves the Fifties-style costumes: "I love Fifties stuff. It's really flattering. I've got a curvy shape and it has always been flattering for that kind of womanly shape. I wear outfits like that anyway."
When it comes to fashion, she maintains, the Fifties was an era that was all about a glamorous silhouette: "The clothes were really feminine. The girls always made an effort which I think is nice."
Of course, as a former Sugababe, Heidi is used to dressing to the nines.
"That is one of the really nice sides of it," she says. "Getting your hair and make-up done every day, and them bringing in loads of clothes for you to try on. That's great."
The girl-band experience taught her a lot about how to dress: "We were all completely different shapes and sizes so you learn that different things suit different people. If you have a stylist to help you figure that out, that's really helpful."
Heidi is the longest-running member of the Sugababes, a group that famously had a long list of lineup changes, and lent her sassy vocals to catchy hits like Round Round and Push The Button. Apparently, though, she didn't set out to be in a girl band, she just wanted to be a singer.
"I was really determined and I used to send my demo off. Every CD I bought I would go through the notes and send my tapes off. Then I would be phoning them to see if they got my CD. I went to every audition that came up."
She feels lucky to have had such a long career in the pop industry. However, she's now relishing the chance to act as well as sing.
"It was something I knew I was going to do at some point after the group and it was just a case of waiting for the right show and the right role to come about. I was a fan of Happy Days TV show and I just really like the character, Pinky."
In the stage version, Fonzie (played by Ben Freeman) and Mrs Cunningham (Cheryl Baker) are battling to save their beloved diner, Arnold's, from demolition.
The new musical has been written by the creator of the TV series, Garry Marshall, who is also the director of hit films Pretty Woman and The Princess Diaries. The show is crammed full of songs by Oscar, Grammy and Golden Globe award-winning songwriter Paul Williams.
"I love doing the dancing and I'm loving acting as well and it's good fun," adds Heidi.
"Come along if you want a fun night out. It's a feel-good, big-dancing, happy show."
Happy Days – A New Musical is at Plymouth's Theatre Royal from June 2 to June 7. Box office: 01752 267222.

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