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.

Read more:

Sugababe Jade Ewen is having a great time in her new role as an actress in Tonight’s the Night

A whole lotta Rod at Lyceum

Jade Ewan, Jenna Lee-James and Ben Heathcoate who are appearing at The Lyceum Theatre in Sheffield in Tonights the Night
Jade Ewen, Jenna Lee-James and Ben Heathcoate who are appearing at The Lyceum Theatre in Sheffield in Tonights the Night

Jade went to theatre school as a youngster and said: “Since Sugababes this is my first theatre job. It’s been really great. Everybody told me before I started it’s like pop touring but harder. The hardest part is the travelling – performing and singing are just fine.”
She said of the show: “It’s about a geeky guy who sells his soul to the devil in exchange for Rod Stewart’s. The love interest is Mary and I play Dee Dee, her best friend. She is always quite feisty and aggressive. There’s a bit of a love triangle that goes on and you see her being vulnerable and a bit more sensitive.”
Of course, Jade gets to show off her singing skills as well and says she particularly loves performing an acapella version of The First Cut is the Deepest. She said: “It’s a nice moment for me.”
The show features 25 of Rod’s songs with a full band.
She has had a great time on the tour. “The opening night in Manchester was amazing, finally seeing the whole thing come to life. It was terrifying but once I’d done it I wanted to go on again!
“In Edinburgh they were out for a good laugh. There were lots of Rod Stewart lookalikes in the audience – it was really bizarre.”
Aged 26, she admits: “Rod Stewart’s music sort of passed me by. I wasn’t aware of how much I knew until rehearsal.
“His music is so well known that you can’t not know it, even if you don’t go out of your way to buy his albums. He wasn’t my generation but my parents definitely like the music.”
She hasn’t met the great man yet. “Rumour is that Rod Stewart is coming to see it in Glasgow, which is the week after l leave. I know he’s seen it in the past. It’s been reworked this time round and people definitely prefer the changes.”
Jade will miss out, though, as Sheffield is her last week in the role and she moves on to a new show. “I have a week off and then start rehearsing for Porgy and Bess in Regent’s Park. I get to sing Summertime. My mum’s favourite ever musical is Porgy and Bess. I am sure there will be a family trip out.”
She has mixed views about her time in the Sugababes. “I was the last Sugababe, I came in right towards the end. There were so many line-up changes, it was difficult to keep that going. The drama overshadowed the music.
“The band had been very much about the great songs. When that got lost people just grew tired of it.
“I came into it really excited and happy to have the opportunity. I got there and it was really quite negative. I didn’t get what I wanted to do and just sing but it has led on to other things which has been amazing.”
Tonight’s the Night is on at the Lyceum this week until Saturday. Tickets from the Crucible box office, online at or call 0114 249 6000.