The Rise And Fall Of Little Voice star Diana Vickers talks to Charlotte Marshall about juggling her singing career and a life on the stage.
CV in brief:
What made you put your music career on hold to act?
It was just a role that I couldn’t turn down and I always said I wanted to do acting eventually. Even if I was really successful in my singing career, eventually I’d want to do a bit of acting because I love it. But it just so happened that Jim Cartwright offered me this amazing role and I couldn’t turn it down. My album’s out early next year anyway, so there was going to be a gap in between and this is just amazing, the best decision of my life.
What was it about this production that drew you to it?
The cast was the main thing. Lesley Sharp, Marc Warren and everyone, they’re absolutely amazing actors. I was star struck when I first met them, that was great. And the persuasion of Jim [Cartwright] and the producer Nica [Burns] and the director [Terry Johnson], there was such a great feeling about them. They’re experienced; Nica’s worked with Josh Hartnett and James McAvoy and Kevin Spacey, all these great actors and I just thought “God this is great!” and the play itself has a beautiful storyline, it just really fit. I was like “Wow, this is it”. It has a proper Northern feel about it – I am Little Voice!
Had you done any acting before or did you need to have training?
No I didn’t have training because everyone said they liked the rawness I brought to the role. I could act a bit before anyway – I did my A-level in it and I was always the lead part in the school play and things like that. But I was 17 when I was accepted for the role, there was only so much acting I could have done anyway, I’d just finished school and done the X Factor. I’m like a little puppy, I’m just learning as I go along.
How did you learn to do the impressions for the play?
A lot of listening and a lot of hard work. Really mimicking, listening to everybody. Nigel [Lilley] and Alison [Mackinnon], the musical directors, they really helped me a lot, teaching me a lot of the tricks of the trade, vocal areas and things like that. It was hard, but I did it and it was really good fun doing it.
Who was the hardest impression to conquer?
For me, Judy Garland was a bit of a pain, and Julie Andrews. But I’ve got them now and I just can’t stop singing them now, I love it. I get to sing a song which is just my voice at the end and I find myself thinking “Ooo that’s me, that’s really me!”
Were you nervous about press night?
I was absolutely terrified! I was so nervous, it was like X Factor all over again, I was nearly being sick. But I just thought “My gosh, you’ve got to enjoy it”. I was shaking, I could hear my heart beating the whole play, but it was incredible. I haven’t really read all the reviews because I didn’t want to be disappointed or anything, but everyone’s been saying “You should read them, they were great” and things like that.
Did being on X Factor prepare you for being on stage?
Yes, definitely. I always say that after doing the X Factor I could do anything. It’s great, but it’s so much easier being on stage than it is on the X Factor. Here I’m with a family every night; I know what I’m doing. Obviously there’s going to be little hiccups here and there, but on X Factor you only get 30 seconds to prove yourself and fight, so that’s scarier than this is.
Do you get stage fright?
Oh yeah, all the time. Even when I do concerts, it’s when I’m singing, especially when I’m singing. I always get nervous, anything could go wrong. I’m always like “Oh my God I could hiccup, oh my God I could cough, I could sneeze, I’m going to forget my lyrics!”
Best thing about being on stage?
I love being on stage and having a really great audience that are giving you the vibe back and playing off that and having a laugh with it and singing. Just all of it – the audience presence and the atmosphere.
…and the worst?
The nerves, the pressure. If you hiccup or if something goes really wrong and you think “Oh my God, how do I get out of this?” It’s going to happen one day, it really is!
Essential dressing room item?
My music, I always have my iPod on. Everyone’s in the green room and it’s like “Diana, shut up!”; it’s blasting full volume. My clothes are flung everywhere and magazines and things like that. And biscuits, biscuits in the dressing room always!
Best advice anyone has ever given you?
Marc [Warren] always says just go out there, live it, enjoy it, just have it. My motto is ‘I control the nerves, the nerves don’t control me’. Because that’s a really big part that let me down on X Factor, I just let my nerves overcome me. I was always nervous and thinking “Okay, I wonder how this is going to go?” because I’m that nervous, but now it’s “No, I know how this is going to go, it’s going to go the way I want it to go”.
What do you do to relax when you’re not on stage?
I try and get lots of sleep. After the show, usually I go home, but if I’ve not got a matinee the next day I like to go out with the cast for a couple of drinks, and to The Ivy and nice jazz bars. I try to see my friends as often as I can, we might have sleepovers and things like that. And then on Saturday night I go out dancing.
Do you like living in London?
I am. I do love it. I love the pace, I love the atmosphere; I’m 18 and it’s great. But I do miss up north a lot and home. I really miss the biscuits and someone from up north bought a big bag of northern biscuits with them today and everyone’s munching on them now! I’m a northern girl all the way.
What ambitions do you have?
Well the album’s out early next year which I’m really excited about, so while the play’s going on I’m going to shoot the video for that and I’ve got to get all the press shots ready and things like that. Then we’ll see how that goes and then hopefully more acting in the near future.
Would you ever like to be in a musical?
Maybe one day. I want to achieve everything in my music career I possibly can and then do really well in my acting. Musicals have never really appealed to me that much, but maybe in the future, never say never.
What actors in particular would you like to work with?
I think Brad Pitt, you know, Jude Law, the usual! Maybe Marc Warren again, he’s alright!
What has been the highlight of your day today?
Definitely the biscuits!
The Rise And Fall Of Little Voice plays at the Vaudeville theatre until 30 January.