After more than a decade travelling the world as part of girl group Sugababes, Heidi Range is back on the road again – this time with the cast of Happy Days: A New Musical. She chatted to Kathryn Tye about her starring role in the show, which opens in Kent this week.
It has been over two years since the now-disbanded Sugababes released their last single in September 2011.
Liverpudlian Heidi Range was the longest serving member of the multi-platinum selling British girl group, which underwent several line-up changes during its decade-long run. And after being with the band from the age of 18, Heidi, now aged 30, says she felt that it finished at the right time.
“I think that it came to a natural end. I wasn’t sad because we achieved so much together and it had run its course.
“When we came out we were different to a lot of girl bands at that time. We weren’t all put there because we were pretty girls who could dance and look nice on stage. We were singers and songwriters. That was our main focus, writing good music.
“We loved performing live, putting on a good show. We never went into it to be famous. We were three girls who always wanted to be singers.”
Since Sugababes ended, Heidi has been busy with other projects, including appearing on ITV’s Dancing On Ice in 2012 and BBC1’s Celebrity Masterchef last year.
But her forthcoming role in show Happy Days: A New Musical is her first major role as a performer, drawing on her acting talents, along with her dance and singing skills.
The musical is an affectionate take on the hit American sitcom Happy Days which ran from 1974 to 1984.
Set in the 1950s, it revolved around the adventures of clean-cut teenager Richie Cunningham and his family, along with suave ladies’ man Arthur ‘The Fonz’ Fonzarelli.
Heidi stars as Pinky Tuscadero, girlfriend of The Fonz, played by former Emmerdale actor Ben Freeman.
She said: “After Sugababes I took some time out and it was then that I was approached by the producers of the show to see if I was interested. I was a fan of Happy Days anyway and thought it would be a fun role to play, as Pinky’s quite feisty and she puts The Fonz in his place.”
It is Heidi’s first acting role since she appeared in professional productions as a teenager and she admits to being nervous.
“I attended a theatre school when I was growing up, training in drama and dance and I have been in shows before, but not since I was about 15. Luckily the cast is lovely and I’m learning so much from them.
“I’m just absolutely loving it. It’s so nice singing every day again. I’m buzzing every day when I get home.”
Heidi isn’t worried about being away from her London home during the show’s extensive seven month tour, visiting 23 venues following its opening at Bromley’s Churchill Theatre.
She said: “I’ve enjoyed being at home during my time off, and I’m ready to get back out there again. I’m used to touring and what’s nice about this tour, is that I’ve got friends and family coming to lots of the different venues.
"And I’m bringing my little pug puppy Betty with me on tour so that will stop me from getting homesick!
“People loved the original Happy Days because it was a feelgood family show, and that’s what we are hoping to bring to the theatre.”
Happy Days: A New Musical is at Bromley’s Churchill Theatre from Saturday, January 11 to Saturday, January 19. Tickets from £12.90. Call 0844 871 7620.
It will also be at Dartford’s Orchard Theatre from Monday, May 19 to Saturday May 24 (call 01322 220000) and at Canterbury’s Marlowe Theatre from Tuesday, May 27 to Saturday, May 31 (call 01227 787787).