Currently starring in Gary Barlow and Tim Firth’s hit musical Calendar Girls, Lisa Maxwell is best known as The Bill’s Samantha Dixon - but there’s nothing “tough cop” about her in this show.
“I cried when they bought the sofa on. I have never cried at a sofa in my life!” she declared. “You leave the theatre feeling like you have been enveloped in a huge cuddle, having laughed, counted your blessings and shed a few tears to boot. Some of the songs are so beautiful and I cry just reading the lyrics on the page. Thank God I’m the one singing about having big comedy knockers!”
Vicky Edwards takes Lisa in for questioning about her role in what could be described as the ultimate girl power musical.
We know you from Loose Women, The Bill and The Lisa Maxwell Show, but you started out as a child performer, didn’t you?
Yes. I was in the original London cast of Annie aged 14. I love singing – it gives me so much joy. Some of the songs in Calendar Girls are so beautiful that I cry just reading the lyrics on the page. Thank God I’m the one singing about having big comedy knockers!
What are your favourite musicals?
Oh goodness! All of them – I love musicals! But songs from Gypsy and Wicked! are favourites. Oh, and I love La La Land, Rent and Book of Mormon, which is so irreverent and naughty but so, so clever. Then there are all the old songs and musicals and I love them too!
Do you get nervous about stripping off for Calendar Girls?
Yes, it’s a very strange feeling! But it is such a fabulous show and all the girls are very supportive. What is being celebrated here is real women who are totally normal and who come together to do something phenomenal.
What appealed to you about doing Calendar Girls?
Everything! It’s a dream job. The songs are beautiful; Gary’s music is wonderful and Tim’s lyric’s and script are incredibly brilliant. I’d have to be really rubbish to cock it up because it’s all there on the page. It’s a dream job; being on the road with other women the same age and with a great show, going to lovely theatres and raising money for Bloodwise. It’s a win-win. I am absolutely chuffed to be part of the Calendar Girls. I can’t imagine that I’ll ever get tired of it.
Are you a sightseer when you are on tour?
I didn’t tour for years because I wanted to be at home for my daughter, but when I toured in my youth I used to stay up late and get up late, so I didn’t do much exploring. Now I’m older I like to get up early when I’m on tour and find out a bit about wherever I am.
The audiences are always good for the show. Does having a fantastic response make a difference if you’re having a bad day?
Absolutely it does. You can be run ragged and shattered but then you get a standing ovation and it just lifts you.
© Vicky Edwards
Book here to see Calendar Girls, 15th-19th October.