Lisa Riley - Star of the "Nunney" Monolgues
SHE wasn’t to realise it until afterwards but there were familiar faces in the audience of the new year’s eve performance of the Southport Theatre’s pantomime, Aladdin.
Lisa Riley, who’d been playing the Empress Of China in her tenth panto, met Kate and Gerry McCann and their twins afterwards.
“I got to pass on my well wishes and it was so moving,” says the 31-year-old actress.
“Obviously they were approaching the New Year without their little girl.”
She adds: “I was really proud because those twins... I made them laugh for 30 minutes. After the year they must have had.”
So why Southport when they live in Leicestershire?
“There was a link with the family through a member of the cast. One of our children,” she says.
“It was funny because one of the ‘red tops’ (tabloid papers) said they were having a quiet time in Scotland. Well no, they’re watching me scream about on stage.”
Riley, who grew up in Burnley, finished her panto run last weekend and took the cast out for a last supper.
“Yeah. It was my way of saying thank you. In panto you do get paid quite nicely.”
She gave herself three days off (“Am I mental or what?”) before going in to rehearsals for The Vagina Monologues, the controversial stage production that, having not seen it, I assumed was a mucky night out for the gals.
“No, not at all. Everyone thinks it’s a feminist night out. It’s anything but. It is quite informative. They are true stories that are comedic and in some cases really horrific and heart-wrenching.”
It’s not anti-men but she admits: “They do get a bit of a dogging. But I think if men came along they’d learn stuff about women. Like why women go to Slimming World for the community of women rather than to simply lose weight. That’s what this piece is all about.”
Riley will only be in the production for the run in Nottingham next week as she’ll be returning to The Naked Truth, the play written especially for her, which she took across the country all last year. But it won’t be her first appearance in The Vagina Monologues.
“I did it before with Sharon Osbourne. She was fantastic. Mental, but great. There’s a whole section in her book (Survivor: My Story) on it.”
Did she diss you?
“No, we got on so well. I got to have a night out with Kelly. And Ozzy came to see her, watching from the wings. Her family are her life and she has a real heart of gold. But I wouldn’t like to cross her.”
Based on genuine interviews with more than 200 women about their views on female sexuality, The Vagina Monologues was first performed by its author Eve Ensler off-Broadway in 1997.
Since then, Glenn Close, Cate Blanchett, Kate Winslet and Meryl Streep have appeared in the show, which is broken in to different sections. Riley, who is joined by Coronation Street’s Shobna Gulati and Sue Holderness from Only Fools & Horses for the run at the Royal Concert Hall, is pleased to have been given the comedy monologues to do.
“I’m doing the **** section,” she says, spelling out the four-letter expletive that you won’t find printed in this paper at least.
“That brings the place apart. And I’m doing the angry speech as well and that is so hilarious. And I’m doing the hair speech,” she laughs.
How do you explain that to your mother?
“My mum loves it. But my grandad is a really staunch Catholic so when she’s explaining to him what I’m doing she says ‘Lisa’s doing the Monologues show.’ He just thinks it’s a play.”
While the content of the show has caused controversy, there’s nothing like genitalia titling to upset the hordes. After a complaint from a member of the public, one theatre in Florida renamed the production The Hoohaa Monologues. Until the producers insisted the original name must be used and it was changed back again.
So what did you call it when were growing up? Not your Hoohaa, I’m sure.
“A nunney. And it’s still my nunney.”
(Note to editor: Honestly, I’m moving on now.)
Lisa Riley first’s soap opera role was actually not in Emmerdale but in Coronation Street.
“I had a line,” she laughs.
“I was in Bettabuys with Curly and Vera wasn’t coming to work. It was something like ‘Where’s Vera?’. But fraught with meaning, of course.”
She rose to fame as Mandy Dingle in Emmerdale but left to host You’ve Been Framed in 1998.
“It paid for my house at the end of the day but I ain’t no host. I’m an actress.”
After five series she quit and has since appeared on TV sporadically, in Doctors, The Bill, Holby City and Fat Friends.
Do people still see her as Mandy Dingle?
“Well, it’s very weird when you go in Asda and people think you’re not working. They say ‘what are you up to, I’ve not seen you for ages?’ If anything, now I’m busier than I ever was in Emmerdale.
“I still get ‘where’s Paddy?’ all the time. But the worst one I got was at Manchester Airport after a seven-hour delay coming back from America. I hadn’t had a cigarette in all that time so I wasn’t in the best mood.
“I was waiting by the conveyor belt, my luggage didn’t appear and this bloke, thinking he was being hilarious, said ‘ha ha ha, you’ve been framed’ and I said ‘ha ha ha f*** off!’
“I think he was taken aback a bit yes but I don’t regret it. We have off days like anyone else.”