Lisa leaves soaps behind for stage

When working for the Western Gazette – the year before last – I interviewed the actress Lisa Riley. She was rather fun. Lisa Riley article for the Western Gazette. Or see below.

SLIMMING is on the menu once again for TV star Lisa Riley who returns to Yeovil for the opening of a satirical stage show about weight loss.

Waiting for Gateaux, a food inspired comedy starring Riley, 33, begins a two-month UK tour in Yeovil this June.

The show is based on the activities of a slimming club, and Riley, 33, is under no illusion as to why Tyneside-based playwrights Ed Waugh and Trevor Wood chose her for the

“It’s because I’m chubby,” she said. “But also because everyone knows I’m into comedy.”

After initially finding fame through her role as Mandy Dingle in Emmerdale, she did a four-year stint presenting You’ve Been Framed before moving onto a part in the comedy in Fat Friends.

She has spent the past four years focusing on a theatre
career. “Theatre is where my heart is,” she said.

A self-confessed “glutton for punishment”, last year she spent a mere 20 days at home, the rest of the time on tour with The Naked Truth and The Vagina Monologues.

She said she loved performing The Vagina Monologues in Yeovil. “The audience was so responsive, I can’t wait to come back.”

She is currently living in her hometown in the north west, preparing for life back on the road.

Conscious of how she is viewed, Riley has adopted several healthy aspects to her lifestyle, including a water aerobics class every morning which prepares her for the day.

She said the media puts too much pressure on women
to be thin. “It’s like they want to put us all in to one envelope. But one size doesn’t fit all,” she said.

Apart from doing research before embarking in her role
as Rebecca Patterson in Fat Friends, Riley has never been to a slimming club, although she is not opposed to it.

“If people want to slim that’s fantastic, as long as it’s not fanatical. That stick thin look is not good. It’s just important that you feel good in your own skin and that you know you’re healthy.”

Riley receives fan mail from young women who find it difficult to lose weight. She said: “The mail I get would break your heart. I’m a role model for girls who are bigger.

Problem is – people don’t realise that fat is in their genes, if mum and dad are fat, likelihood is they will be too. These girls are living in a household where they have chips twice a day. It’s hard to break away from that.”

Waiting for Gateaux is set in a run-down village hall and
follows the members of a failing slimming club, ‘Mo-tivators’. The members are there to make friends and gossip, much like real-life slimming clubs – according to Riley.

She said: “Truth is – every single woman that goes to a slimming club is there for camaraderie, for friendship,
because they’re split up with their partner and they’re lonely. Not to shed three stone.”

“In the play we’re not preaching. It’s a slimming
club that doesn’t take slimming seriously.”

The characters in the play are attempting to lose weight in anticipation of appearing in a new reality TV-show but their showbiz aspirations are thwarted when they fail to resist the temptations of fastfood and media executive, Sophie, reveals she has an ulterior motive.

Riley is excited about meeting her fellow cast members
and bringing the lines to life. She said: “With scripts like
this you wonder if it will work, and then you realise it definitely will.”

Riley’s character, Jackie, has a secret throughout but
she is not disclosing it. She said: “There’s a shocking
twist at the end but I’m not telling you what it is because
it will ruin it.”

She is sure the audience will find the play hilarious.

She said: “I’ll give them their money’s worth. You know
when an actor’s being lazy but in these hard economic times,
when people are spending their last pennies coming to
see you, you’ve got to blow them away.”

Though she still enjoys TV, she appreciates that every
night in theatre is different. “When you’re on stage you get to respond to the audience.

“With TV you might get a nice critique in the paper or people telling you in Asda that they thought you were good but with theatre it’s instant feedback.”

Playwright Trevor Wood said: “It’s great that Waiting for Gateaux is touring the UK. Of all our plays, it’s a personal favourite and a real crowdpleaser. I’m delighted that
Lisa Riley is starring this time around, I’m certain she’ll be absolutely fantastic.”

Waiting for Gateaux will be shown at the Octagon Theatre
in Yeovil from June 9 to June 12, from 7.30pm each night with a Saturday matinee at 2.30pm. For more information contact the Box Office on 01935 422884.

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