Eurobeat offers a taste of Eurovision
Emma Lee Eurovision fever hits Norwich next week when a kitsch new musical inspired by the world’s cheesiest song contest arrives at the Theatre Royal. Emma Lee speaks to Eurobeat’s leading lady Sally Lindsay – and catches up with former Norfolk resident and Eurovision winner Katrina Leskanich.ee
Royaume Uni might have come a miserable last in this year's Eurovision Song Contest, but there's a chance to put that right when a new musical inspired by the cheesiest night in the music calendar arrives in Norwich.
Star names Sally Lindsay and Les Dennis head the cast of Eurobeat - Almost Eurovision, an all-singing, all-dancing homage to the annual festival of kitsch that we secretly hate to love.
Set in Sarajevo, Sally and Les play the show's hosts Boyka, a former Olympic pole-vaulter, and Sergei, a children's TV host, whose job it is to introduce the 10 entries. Then it's up to the audience to choose their winner. The show promises lots of flag-waving and lots of laughs - and Mr Eurovision himself, Terry Wogan, will even be there in spirit.
It's yet another coup for the Theatre Royal - the show, which was a huge hit when it debuted at the Edinburgh Festival last summer, is touring regional theatres before transferring to London's West End.
For Sally, who is best known for her role as Rovers Return barmaid Shelley Unwin in Coronation Street, it's her first lead role in a musical - and it turned out to be slightly more energetic than she'd anticipated.
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“I have to pole-vault across the stage,” she laughs. “And I have to do the splits.”
Chatty Sally is clearly loving the role, which she shares with comedian Mel Giedroyc who plays Boyka on other dates during the tour.
“I haven't done a musical at this level - I'm amazed they asked me,” she says enthusiastically.
“I'd had the script and had just shoved it in my bag thinking 'I don't do musicals' - I've done singing impersonations before [she went on Celebrity Stars In Their Eyes as Dolly Parton], but I'm not particularly brilliant at singing,” she adds modestly.
“I read the script and I laughed out loud and I thought 'I can't believe I nearly let this go'.
“But what they didn't tell me at the meeting was that I had to do a massive musical number. I had to learn it in two weeks. And I have to dress up as a turnip. And I have to pole-vault across the stage and then do the splits.
“I don't know how I know how to do the splits, but it's something I've always been able to do.
“I used to do it in the Rovers to make them laugh after a 12-hour shift. I must have weird hamstrings. Anyway, I did it showing off in front of the dancers and the choreographer said 'Right that's going in', so I have to do it every night now,” she says.
She's relishing playing the role of Boyka.
“She's very very funny - she's tried everything and has been rubbish at most things. And her co-presenter is a TV presenter called Sergei - they were the most famous people they could find.
“There's 10 fantastic songs and it's brilliantly written - the songs are far too good for Eurovision. It's a celebration of what's good and bad about the countries. It takes the mickey out of everyone. The British entry is a love song sung by two chavs. We don't know who's going to win, so every night is completely different,” she says.
Is Sally a Eurovision fan? Not for the music, certainly.
“If we took it seriously we would put a decent song in every year,” she says. “But the presenters make me laugh. When I first read the script I thought it was hilarious. They've got it completely right - they have the presenters saying double-entendres they don't know they're saying and silly banter.”
Sally says that she's looking forward to coming back to Norwich - although during her last visit she didn't exactly see it at its best.
“I was in Norwich this year doing a film for This Morning. I made five films about local heroes and I went on the SOS Bus [the night bus which helps people who get into difficulties during nights out in the city].
“I saw some sights - but it's not different to any city in the country in that respect. I've always liked Norwich - but it's a bugger to get to. I like it when I get there,” she says.
As well as starring in Coronation Street (which she describes as having been an amazing experience), Sally, a talented comedian, has also appeared in Phoenix Nights (Peter Kay is a good friend), The Royle Family and Fat Friends.
And she's recently recorded her part in Wallace and Gromit's eagerly-anticipated new adventure, A Matter of Loaf and Death - although she's not allowed to give much away.
“It was just phenomenal. I do a lot of radio work with Mark Radcliffe and I was on the show with him and Nick [Park, the director] heard my voice. He had no idea who I was. He Googled me to check I was an actress and tracked me down and I went for a voice test. He'd never even seen Coronation Street,” she says.
“I'm really sworn to secrecy, but it's a fantastic story. My character, Piella, is an ex-model - she looks a bit like Diana Dors, a big old blonde with big knockers. Wallace falls in love with her, which doesn't go down well with Gromit. But I can't tell you anything else, I'd get done.” she says, laughing.
t Eurobeat - Almost Eurovision is at the Norwich Theatre Royal from Monday to Saturday, June 23-28. Shows are at 7.30pm Monday to Thursday, with an additional show at 5.30pm on Friday and Saturday. Tickets cost from £5 to £24. Box office - telephone 01603 630000. For more information or to book online log on to www.theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk
t Monday's performance is the Lord Mayor's Charity Night to raise awareness and money for Norwich inshore lifeboat, which patrols the River Wensum. It's the chosen charity of Lord Mayor Jeremy Hooke, who is keen to highlight the boat's lifesaving work and is a huge fan of the Eurovision Song Contest.