Interview With… Amy Ellen Richardson

The actress chatted to Emma Clarendon about starring in The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4 The Musical, now playing at the Ambassadors Theatre.

(c)Pamela Raith.

Hi Amy, thanks so much for talking to me. For those who haven’t seen the musical what can they expect? It is based on the iconic book written by Sue Townsend of a teenage boy growing up in the 1980’s and what happens in his life over the space of a year. He keeps a diary of events and the musical covers everything from adolescence, new loves, lost loves, family dynamics and dysfunctions, and the politics that surrounded the country at that time, all of which every person will be able to relate
to no matter what their age. It’s set to an incredibly moving, witty and infectious score and I can guarantee you will laugh your socks off too.

How are you feeling about being part of bringing the production to the West End? Beyond thrilled. It’s been a very long road for the creative team to get the show to this point and to be chosen to be involved in such a unique and special piece like Adrian Mole, especially at this stage
in its journey, is honestly fantastic. Also, it is a British musical and in this climate where support for new work in the Arts is a constant struggle, for me to be able to be a part of something I believe in immensely and promote our brilliant show on such a platform is something that’s very important to

What do you think it is about Sue Townsend’s story and characters that make for a good musical? It’s because her books are about real life issues. Sue Townsend had such a cult following and still does now not only due to her writing being so anarchic, but her books were extremely clever, funny
and naughty too. All the characters are so different, they all have their own problems, quirks and flaws, so again, audiences of all ages can sympathise or relate to them. It’s so great to meet children now who have come to see the show with their parents that are feeling compelled to want to read
the books after seeing our production. To know that the show is helping to pass on Sue’s legacy down the ages is really humbling.

What was it that made you want to be part of Adrian Mole the musical? Firstly, I’d never read the books before I auditioned so I was kind of oblivious to the intricate details of the story really. But I knew of Adrian Mole and because it is British and the script and score are STUNNING, that was a massive pull for me initially. Then once I got to know more about the part of Pauline during the audition process and chatting with Luke, Jake and Pippa (Director, Writer and Composer) I saw how multi-faceted she was and how flawed as a human being. It’s such an interesting, strong and humourous female role, so I always grab those with both hands! As an
actress to be able to go on the journey she does in the show and also get to sing some utterly beautiful songs along the way, is a gift in itself. It’s a very special thing.

Could you tell me about your character Pauline?Pauline has such a fascinating journey. Being maternal doesn’t come naturally to her and being stuck in a marriage that’s ‘all a routine’ now for twenty years, she feels like a slave, trapped and taken for granted in the family home as a housewife and Mother, especially in a time where women’s personal aspirations were suppressed. The attitudes to women working back then were different to
how they are now. You were expected to stay and keep house and getting a job was more or less out of the question. Unhappiness makes her morally confused and weakened into temptation. So in her yearning to break free of these things and do something for herself, she is eventually forced to make
some very tough decisions which are radical as a Mother and Wife. Some people may find that hard to sympathise with, therefore my challenge is to find the humanity and warmth in her to help the audience follow her story and choices with compassion and understanding.

How has it been working with everyone on the production?
We are a small troop of nine on stage and there is such a wide age range and performance experience. It means that you are constantly learning every day from each other, getting different perspectives, advice, support and exceptional camaraderie which makes for a very special process indeed. I feel an immense amount of pride and admiration for our young cast especially, they’re incredible. We all believe in the piece so much as well and I think that always goes a long way. We giggle every day and
this whole cast and creative team both on and off stage are a total delight to work with. I actually couldn’t wish for a more glorious or talented bunch to be surrounded with and that’s always a rare statement.

What is it about the story that is still relatable for audiences and readers? It’s predominantly about life, and heartbreak in all forms. That transcends all generations. Everyone has a family. Everyone has gone through the trials of growing up. And nobody’s perfect. We all have
our own link with those things so the musical literally has something for everyone. It’s also a nostalgic trip for some yet an educational one for others depending on when they were born, and it shows how far we’ve come in society since the 1980’s, but also how far we have still to go. Seeing
and hearing the audiences reactions during the performances and then their comments afterwards is so fulfilling because young and old, they seem to be having the best time, have laughed and cried and are leaving with the biggest smile on their faces. And in the end, when all is said and done, that is why we do it, isn’t it?

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13¾- The Musical will play at the Ambassadors Theatre until the 28th September. To book tickets click here or visit: See Tickets , ATG Tickets, Love, Theatre Tickets, Last, Encore Tickets or From the Box Office.

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