Interview: Diana Vickers
SINGING sensation Diana Vickers has landed herself the title role in a new West End production of The Rise and Fall of Little Voice. The former Westholme pupil tells how she may be living the dream in London, but nothing beats shopping in Blackburn on a Saturday afternoon.
YOU can take Diana Vickers out of Lancashire, but you certainly can’t take Lancashire out of the girl.
“Ooh, I so envy you in Blackburn right now,” she enthused at the start of our interview.
“Thinking of Morrisons in the grey drizzle makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.”
Diana's enthusiasm is infectious. Her speech is littered with exclamation marks and everything is “amazing” or “exciting”.
It’s not surprising really, as the 18-year-old X Factor semi-finalist is preparing for the role of her life leading an all-star cast in her debut West End performance of The Rise and Fall of Little Voice.
Diana, of Huncoat, will be joined by Lesley Sharp — who is known for her parts in Cranford, Clocking Off and Playing the Field — and Hustle and Dr Who star Marc Warren, in the show which opens next week.
She admitted the calibre of her co-stars was daunting at first.
“I’d seen every single one of them before on TV so I was really starstruck at the first read-through,” she said.
“I was thinking ‘Oh my gosh, I’ve got no training, what if they all laugh at me?’ But they were so warm and friendly. They’re just nutters just like me.
“In some ways next to them I feel like a little puppy that’s learning. I get rewards when I’ve done well and it makes me learn more stuff.”
The Rise and Fall of Little Voice premiered in 1992 at the Royal National Theatre and was made famous by Rossendale actress Jane Horrocks in the 1998 film version.
It tells the tale of painfully shy, diminutive Little Voice who lives alone in the north of England with her mother, Mari, and who has a talent for impersonating some of the greatest divas, including Judy Garland, Edith Piaf and Shirley Bassey.
Diana has worked hard to perfect her impersonations of the singers, having twice-weekly voice coaching sessions since August.
“I’ve really mastered them now and I’m walking around singing just like Judy Garland — it’s a great little party trick.”
Since appearing on X Factor last year Diana’s life has been a whirlwind. She signed a record deal with RCA records and her debut album, which she has co-written, is due for release this spring.
But Diana admitted it's a little strange watching this year's contestants.
"It's very surreal for me to watch," she said.
"I thought I wouldn't have been able to even switch it on without feeling sick but, surprisingly I can sit down and watch it and have a laugh watching it. I know what's going through the contestants' minds and it's such a rare experience to be on The X Factor that, although I don't know this year's contestants, I feel like I've got a connection with them."
Although Diana enjoyed her experiences on the TV show, she said in hindsight she's glad she didn't win.
"I'm not just saying that. I'm really glad I didn't win. It's great to not have been manufactured into something I'm not, or forced into getting an album out quickly to get back on TV. I feel like I've got so much freedom and that I'm really getting my teeth into life. It's great."
Diana now lives in a plush apartment in Battersea, south London, and is a regular on the London party scene, with pal and fellow former X Factor contestant Ruth Lorenzo.
"I've got a gorgeous apartment and it's got a massive terrace attached to it with a barbecue and everything, so my friends all love coming round," said Diana.
"After work I always have loads of energy so I'll either go round to Ruth's house and she'll cook me some nice dinner, or we'll go out dancing, or maybe I'll go to watch a movie with my sister Charlotte, who is 22 and lives in London now. I don't often stay in on my own. Last night I went to a big fat party and it was amazing."
But there are times when Diana gets a sharp reminder that she's still only a teenager away from home.
"I was in bed one night when I felt this massive spider crawling all the way down my body. I screamed and cried down the phone to my friend Sam and said: 'You've got to come round!' When he arrived I was literally sat in a corner crying 'I want my mum, I want to go home'. It's at times like that when I say 'I'm fed up, I want to go back home' but I don't mean it really."
Despite loving her new life, Diana admitted there's lots she still misses about Blackburn.
"I really miss walking into Maccy D's on a Saturday to get a milkshake and seeing all the people stood outside, then going into M&S to see my mum on her lunch break and having a coffee with her.
"And I miss going to the Woodlands after school to get an orange juice. At Christmas I'll be in London doing a show so I'll miss the Revidge run. I love London but I know my roots and my friends are my friends for life."
But luckily Diana will get a taste of home when 200 Westholme pupils travel to London on a school trip to see her perform in Little Voice.
"It's so lovely that they're supporting me," said Diana.
"It's bizarre in a way too because they're going to write a theatre review on the show. A year ago that would've been me on the trip. Now I'm the one they're reviewing! We're having a little get-together afterwards so that'll be lovely, but I'd better be good if they're reviewing me, hadn't I?"
l Diana Vickers is starring in The Rise and Fall of Little Voice at Vaudeville Theatre, London, running from October 8 to January 30, 2010. For tickets call 0844 579 1975.