Sian Reeves has kept Coronation Street viewers on the edge of their seats since rolling up as Charlie Wood, the deluded wife Tim Metcalfe didn’t know he had. But viewers will have to wait to see how it all pans out for Tim, Sally and Charlie as she takes a break from the cobbles of Weatherfield to star in the brand new stage play adaptation of Helen Forrester’s, By The Waters Of Liverpool which is coming to Isle Of Man Gaiety Theatre on 23 – 25 April.
From ex-con, Hannah Temple in Hope Springs, to the psychotic Sally Spode in Emmerdale - and now Charlie Wood in Corrie, Sian seems right at home playing the vulnerable woman with issues. And her new role in By The Waters Of Liverpool is no exception.
Sian said: “I’ll be playing ‘Mother’, Celia Forrester, who is a wonderfully complex person. From money, status and class, before the great depression of the 1930’s, to then losing everything and being dumped in a damp bug infested house with one cold tap, one toilet –and seven children to look after. I think she absolutely cannot shake herself out of the nightmare that is now her new life. She is stunned that her husband, who once held a senior position in the financial world, cannot find work and they have to grovel for handouts from the local parish. And to escape the confines of this smelly, claustrophobic house she leaves the day to day running of the family to her 11 year old daughter, Helen, which manifests itself as a very strict and uncaring woman. Helen actually said of her mother,‘ her bouts of temper bordered on insanity’. But really she is exhausted and so dreadfully depressed. It’s a great role to play”.
And in celebration of Helen Forrester's 100th Birthday, an iconic Blue Plaque will be unveiled at a special event in February at the late author’s family home in Hoylake – a place which featured heavily in Helen’s four volumes of best-selling autobiography, including Twopence To Cross The Mersey and By The Waters Of Liverpool. The plaque will be unveiled by Sian Reeves and co-star, Mark Moraghan.
Sian continued: “I have read about five of Helen’s books and I feel very honoured to have been asked to unveil Helen’s blue plaque with the lovely Mark Moraghan. Helen was a magnificently, clever woman and it will be lovely to meet some of her family at this very special occasion”.
By The Waters Of Liverpool is set in the 1930s after Helen’s father went bankrupt during the Depression. Her family were forced to leave behind the nannies, servants and comfortable middle-class life in the South West of England. The Forresters chose Liverpool to rebuild their shattered lives, but they were in for a terrible shock. Taken out of school to look after her young siblings, Helen is treated as an unpaid slave. So begins a bitter fight with her parents for the right to go out to work and make her own way in life.But by 1939 and with Britain on the verge of war, Helen now aged 20, has still never been kissed by a man. But things start looking up for her when she meets a tall strong seaman and falls in love.
The touring cast also features Parry Glasspool, Lucy Dixon, Eric Potts, Lynn Francis, Danny O’Brien, Roy Carruthers, and Chloe McDonald.
West Bromwich born Sian Reeves is an original cast member of the 1985 stage production of Les Misérables. She also later appeared in the 25th anniversary performance at London’s O2. Sian has already shared a stage with fellow cast member Mark Moraghan in celebrity TV singing contest, Just The Two Of Us – when Sian and opera singer Russell Watson won the competition. Sian’s television credits also include Casualty, Cutting It, Holby City and, more recently Coronation Street. Theatre credits include West Side Story, Love Me Tender, The Merchant Of Venice, and The Little Match Girl.
Mark Moraghan is best known for his role as medic Owen Davies in Holby City. Other TV credits include Coronation Street, London’s Burning and Brookside. He has also appeared in Celebrity Masterchef, and was runner-up in TV singing contest Just The Two Of Us with Natasha Hamilton. Mark also made numerous guest appearances on Harry Enfield & Chums. Following in the tracks of Ringo Starr and Michael Angelis, Mark is now the voice of Thomas The Tank Engine. Theatre credits include My Fair Lady, MacBeth and Little Miss Sunshine.
Parry Glasspool is best known for playing Harry Thompson in Hollyoaks. He was born and raised in the Midlands, before moving to London to study for his BA Hons in Acting for Stage and Media at the University of West London. After five years in Hollyoaks, Parry recently made a dramatic exit in a high-profile storyline when he was murdered. Parry’s other television credits include Hollyoaks Later, Our Zoo, and film The Cutting Room. He was nominated for Best Newcomer at the prestigious National Television Awards in 2016.
Lucy Dixon hails from Greater Manchester. She is widely known for her television roles as Danielle Harker in Waterloo Road and Tilly Evans in Hollyoaks. Lucy received a nomination for Best Actress at the TV Choice Awards in 2012 for her portrayal of Tilly. The following year, she also featured on the longlist for Best Serial Drama Performance at the National Television Awards 2013.Lucy’s other TV credits include Birds Of A Feather, Casualty, Scott & Bailey, and Doctors. Theatre credits include Sweet Charity, The Girl From The Ward, Lord Of The Flies, and Peter Pan.
Eric Potts has been a regular face on TV screens for more than 20 years. The Scottish-born actor is best known for playing the eccentric baker Diggory Compton in Coronation Street. His other screen credits include Doctor Who, Heartbeat, The Royal, Last Of The Summer Wine, and Emmerdale. Eric’s theatre credits include Twelfth Night, Brassed Off, Footloose, and The Merry Wives Of Windsor.
Lynn Francis is a familiar face on theatre stages in Liverpool. Credits include Ladies Day, A Nightmare On Lime Street, Twopence To Cross The Mersey, and The Salon. On screen, she has appeared in Reds & Blues, The Ballad Of Dixie & Kenny, and Charlie Noades RIP. Lynn also worked alongside Ian Hart and Dougray Scott in The Lie Is Dead.
Returning to By The Waters Of Liverpool is Danny O’Brien. Danny recently played a starring role in the new stage play Lennon’s Banjo. His screen credits include House Of Anubis on Nickelodeon, and Good Cop. Theatre credits include Stags And Hens, Lost Souls, The Star, The Salon, The Rainbow Connection and Bouncers.
Roy Carruthers has featured in Twopence To Cross The Mersey and Lennon’s Banjo. His other theatre credits include Ladies Night, Funny Money, Night Collar, and The Price by Arthur Miller. Screen credits include Good Cop, Longford, and Sparkle.
Chloe McDonald is a graduate of the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts. She has recently performed in Liverpool’s Unity Theatre, as well at fringe festivals in Edinburgh, Lahti and Gothenburg. Credits include The Pride, The Love Of The Nightingale, and Romeo And Juliet.
The new touring production of By The Waters Of Liverpool is produced by Pulse Records Limited in association with Bill Elms and is directed by Gareth Tudor Price.
Writer and friend of Helen Forrester, Rob Fennah has written both the stage play versions of Twopence To Cross The Mersey and By The Waters Of Liverpool.
Rob Fennah commented: “Although Helen is no longer with us, she is always in my thoughts. While I was writing By The Waters Of Liverpool, I imagined her looking over my shoulder to check all the little details were correct and in order. Even after all these years on from adapting Twopence To Cross The Mersey, I can still hear her voice in my head saying, ‘Make sure you get it right Rob, this is my life we’re talking about here!’. It's a real privilege to be entrusted with her most famous works, but also a huge responsibility.”
This new production of By The Waters Of Liverpool also features sizeable chunks from Helen’s earlier book Liverpool Miss, together with flashbacks to Twopence To Cross The Mersey.
Rob added: “I’ve even managed to weave in a storyline from Helen’s fourth autobiography, Lime Street At Two. That way, the audience get a complete picture of her life. To make all this possible we use a technique called ‘story theatre’ whereby the actors form part of the landscape itself and take on multiple roles – over 50 different characters. It’s a fluid and very theatrical way of presenting such an epic tale and has proved to be a huge hit with our audiences.”
Helen Forrester’s son, Robert Bhatia, said: “The partnership between playwright Rob Fennah and my mother Helen, and her legacy, has been outstanding.”
By The Waters Of Liverpool has sold more than a million books. Now this is your chance to see it come to life in this brand new stage play adaptation.
Helen Forrester’s best-selling volumes of autobiography include Twopence To Cross The Mersey, Liverpool Miss, By The Waters Of Liverpool, and Lime Street At Two.
Adapted by Rob Fennah · Directed by Gareth Tudor Price
Produced by Pulse Records Limited in association with Bill Elms
Fully endorsed by the Helen Forrester Estate