When playwright Jim Cartwright wanted an actress to play Mari Hoff, the alcoholic mum grieving the loss of her husband in Little Voice, on a new stage tour, there was only person he turned to – former Coronation Street star Beverley Callard.
And when she discovered he was also going to be directing the play – also made into a award-winning film starring Sarah-Jane Horrocks, Brenda Blethyn and Michael Caine – then Beverley jumped at the chance.
The play follows Mari’s daughter, known to all as Little Voice due to her shyness, who spends most of her time immersed in her late dad’s record collection, perfecting her astonishing impersonations, much to the dismay of her fun-loving mum.
Overheard singing by Ray Say, a hapless talent scout and Mari’s latest boyfriend, Little Voice is propelled to stardom as Ray sets about creating the show of the century in a dingy local working men’s club. He persuades an agent to come from London and sees Little Voice as his ticket to fame – but she has different ideas with her new friend Billy.
The show comes to Rhyl next month, with X Factor’s Ray Quinn as Billy, comedian and ex-Brookside actor Duggie Brown as Mr Boo and classically trained Jess Robinson as Little Voice.
“Mari is one of the greatest roles ever written,” said Beverley, in a brief break between sold-out shows in a freezing Sheffield. “It is such an uplifting play and Mari such an amazing role to do, I couldn’t possibly say no.
“Playing an alcoholic grieving widow is quite something. It is a demanding role, and is incredibly exhausting but the script is so good, you find something special in it every time: it is mind-blowing good.
“The audiences tell me that have cried with laughter but then they cry with sadness.
“It is about Mari and Little Voice’s relationship, it is a magnificent part.”
The play is full of striking tunes, from Tina Turner to Edith Piaf.
Little Voice can be seen at the Rhyl Pavilion Theatre from February 11-16. Telephone 01745 330000 or visit www.rhylpavilion.co.uk.