Calendar Girls, Musical, Theatre, TotalNtertainment, Chester

10 Questions With… Calendar Girls Sue Devaney

Ahead of her performance in The Calendar Girls n Chester, Sue Devaney chats to us about Gary Barlow, Getting naked and more

1. Thanks for your time Sue. You’re currently touring with Calendar Girls, how did you get the role ?
“I auditioned for it last year although I really didn’t want to do any more musicals. I did Mama Mia and I loved it then I auditioned about eight times and, the last time, I said to my agent not to put me up for any more musicals. It’s too hard – in TV or whatever you go two or three times max but, in theatre, it’s like nine times. Anyway, he did and Calendar Girls The Musical came up and he said to me that he knew I didn’t want to do any more musicals but it was Calendar Girls so I went for it. I went in and got the part and met Tim Firth and I just really liked them and the role.”

2. What was experience of the Calendar Girls Story ?
“Well, as you know, Calendar Girls is a story about the ladies of the WI and one of them lost her husband to leukemia and they raised over £20 million because they did this nude calendar. The history of me and where I’m coming from is that my brother had leukemia when he was younger and he survived. My mum and dad died of cancer – my mum died when I was thirty-seven but, before she died, she raised thousands of pounds of Leukemia research and she sold calendars and stuff like that so I was well aware of it from right back to the nineties. So, when I went for this job, I was sat thinking that this was all about my mother. It’s all about a fabulous cause that is really dear to my heart.”

3. It’s a high profile musical with Gary Barlow and Tim Firth involved. What was it like working with them ?
“Oooh I met Gary a couple of weeks ago and I was beside myself. I tour with him as I have one of those face mask things that you can wear. It comes everywhere with me and I met him finally two weeks ago then worried that he might come to my dressing room and see his face.”

4. You mentioned that you had told your agent that you didn’t want to do any more musicals. Did you have any reservations about taking this one up ?
“Well, when I knew what the script was and what it was about.. no. It was only the length of the tour because it’s pretty much all year so you can’t do anything else as it’s April through to November. As a self-employed actor, I like regular money now and again so when a job comes up like this the pluses outweighs the minuses. Also, we got five weeks off in Summer so I could go back to Corrie for six episodes so I managed to fit other things in as well.”

5. How did you feel about being naked on stage especially in front of family and friends ?
“I pretend it’s not me. I go into method and into character. I think that’s not me, I’m not like that when I’m naked. It’s really good though when there is a good, rowdy audience.”

6. Prior to joining, what did you know about the rest of the cast as there are some big names in there?
“Lesley Joseph took over from Ruth Madoc who had broken her hip I’ve worked with before on a film years ago called Exclusive Yarns when I was twenty. I’d worked with Lesley before. A couple of my mates are in it. Ian Mercer from Oldham and Phil I’d worked with before in Rock N’ Roll Musical. Lisa Maxwell, we share digs everywhere we go so that’s nice. It’s a lovely team of actors.”

7. You’ve toured all over with your musicals but you’ve also done TV and the likes of Coronation Street. How different are the two ?
“It’s that thing of how you’ve got a live audience in theatre and you get an instant reaction whereas on the telly you’re ensconsed in a part and you don’t get the immediate reaction that an audince would give you. If you go with a character whether it’s on TV or on theatre, you get a chance to get it right with theatre because you get to do it more than once whereas, on telly, you’re not in control of what you’re going to look like. It’s very different, a different genre altogether. My first things I did when I was sixteen was TV and then I kind of started off in theatre. I don’t really have a preference, I just like pretending to be somebody other than myself [laughs].”

8. Is there a role out there that you think you’d be perfect for ?
“I’ve just seen The Joker and I’d love to play a female version of The Joker. Obviously middle-aged and Northern which would be an interesting twist. Seriously though, I really enjoyed coming back to Corrie and playing the original character I played when I was sixteen. That was terrific. One of my first roles when I was sixteen was Debbie Webster and I came back thirty four years later and she’s now a business woman in Turkey so she’s got no money worries which is quite nice to play and can have anything she wants. I’m hoping to go back to Corrie because I can’t be touring round like this in the Winter [laughs]. It’s a nice in the Summer but when it gets to November and you’re in some of those theatres, I’m just thinking how I want to light my fire and go home [laughs].”

9. Curveball question – if you could have a superhero power for a day what would you choose and how would you use it ?
“[laughs] That varies from day to day. Right at the moment I would say my superhero would be to fly. I don’t know what that would do for anybody other than me but I’d love to be able to fly. Also I think my power would be to be able to read peoples minds. That might be a bad thing as well. What I’d love more than anything is to be able to grant wishes and to be able to help people who struggle with their addictions and addictive behaviours. When I speak to people on the streets, they all say the same thing and that is that they want to come of the drugs – I’d love to be able to grant that wish for them.”

10. Thanks for your time Sue, just to finish is there anything you’d like to say ?
“I’d just like to say that one of the things I miss most when I’m on tour is my family and going home every night to my own bed. One of the things I’m doing on tour is an Instagram account called “Tuck Me In On Tour”.  What I’m doing is taking photos of all the beds I’ve slept in on tour. I’m also doing a documentation on the homeless people because every town and city it’s terrible. It’s all about funding being cut, mental illness, addiction, can’t the treatment they need. Everywhere I go I chat to people who are living on the streets then I do a little interview with them. If you could give that a little plug that would be great.”

You can see Sue’s Tuck Me In On Tour instagram account here