Verity Rushworth, who is famous for her role as Donna Windsor in the ITV soap ‘Emmerdale’, is coming to Derry later this month to play Maria in ‘The Sound of Music’. Here she tells how’s she’s enjoying her first ever professional theatrical tour, how she’s trained for it all her life, and what it’s like to work alongside Jason Donovan, who plays Captain Von Trapp.
“I’ve lived in Leeds all my life, apart from the last two years, which I spent in London,” the 25-year-old explains, “and this is the first time I’ve been on the road. It takes a bit of getting used to, but the company all become much closer, because we travel together and eat together, which doesn’t happen when you’re in the West End. Verity started her training very early on in life. “As a 3-year-old, I was quite hyperactive. My mum took me down to drama classes and I just loved it. You were supposed to be 5 but they took me and that was a sign of things to come!” She kept going to Scala two evenings per week, studying jazz, singing, drama and dance. When Verity was 9, her dance teacher said she showed a lot of potential, so she started going to Footsteps for extra dance tuition, and she kept both of these up right until the age of 16. But she got her big break long before then.
“Emmerdale came along when I was 12 (in 1998). The show’s casting agency asked Scala for someone who could do a cockney accent. There were 20 girls at the audition. I was just lucky and after 5 recalls, I got the job. My mum was absolutely thrilled, because I’d been training for so long and hadn’t got much TV work, just one line in an episode of Heartbeat when I was 9.
“I Left Emmerdale in 2009 and went straight into the West End, playing Penny in Hairspray. It was really demanding going from being on the set of a soap to doing 8 shows a week. I was absolutely exhausted but it was so exciting, I got a real buzz out of it and loved every minute”
After Hairspray, Verity worked with Chris Fountain from Dancing on Ice on a show called Departure Lounge, in London, then went into rehearsals for the Sound of Music.
“I took over the role from Connie Fisher, who won it on the TV show, How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria? Hers were very big shoes to fill. She was a wonderful Maria but so far it’s all gone really well, the audiences have been fantastic.
“Jason came into the show the same time as I did. He took over from Michael Praed. We had three weeks rehearsal together and got to know each other really well before we started touring. He’s really lovely, down to earth and easy-going - which made it all easier.
This wonderfully lavish production tells the story of the Von Trapp family’s flight across the mountains with its unforgettable score that includes some of the most memorable songs ever performed on the musical stage including Edelweiss, My Favorite Things, Do-Re-Mi, Climb Ev’ry Mountain, and the title song ‘The Sound of Music.
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s production of The Sound of Music visits the Millennium Forum from March 22 to April 2. Tickets from 04871 264455 or www.millenniumforum.co.uk.