Sally Ann Triplett is a West End Legend who has had starring roles in much-loved musicals, including Mamma Mia!, Chicago and Cats.
This Summer, she is set to tread the boards at Leicester’s Curve Theatre, in a new production of Billy Elliott, which is being shown at the venue between July 7 and August 14.
She told Pukaar about her excitement ahead of her role as Mrs Wilkinson – Billy’s straight talking ballet teacher, who plays a pivotal part in his inspiring dancing success.
In the world of theatre and musicals, you’d struggle to find someone who hasn’t heard of Sally Ann Triplett. After over 40 years in the business, her CV is extensive, and her wealth of experience immense…
She has performed at venues all across the UK and beyond; Broadway, New York – you name it… She has even represented the UK twice at the Eurovision Song Contest. However Sally Ann’s upcoming role in Billy Elliott the Musical, will mark her first visit to Leicester’s Curve Theatre.
“I performed in Oliver at the Haymarket, probably 23 years ago now, but it’s my first time at Curve”, she told Pukaar.
“It’s incredible. The space is amazing. I’ve worked at the National a few times and this is actually better”, she added.
“It’s just so airy and you feel like you can breath and create. I just love it”.
For those who haven’t seen the film, Billy Elliott is the much loved tale of a boy who aspires to become a professional ballet dancer, despite this being at odds with his father’s wishes, and his working-class roots.
His Dad wants him to be a boxer. However during training, Billy slips into a ballet class and is taken under the wing of Mrs Wilkinson, who sees immediate promise in the young performer.
Ms Triplett said that she was attracted to the role of Mrs Wilkinson, as she enjoyed the character’s fighting spirit, and her straight-forward ‘no-nonsense’ attitude.
In fact, it’s a role which she actively chased – something which Sally has seldom done during her career.
“I thought, I’m just going to be like Kate Winslet when she wanted the film Titanic. I’m just going to tell them ‘I’m your girl’, and I did”, she revealed.
“It’s not something that I’d do normally, but there just aren’t that many parts that are so well written, and are in shows that are so heartfelt.
“I would’t say that I was made for the role, but I can definitely relate to the character”, she added.
Growing up, Sally Ann wanted to be a ballet dancer – something which she practiced since the age of two-and-a-half.
However after going to college, she realised that it was something which was “never going to happen”.
“At some point in her life, Mrs Wilkinson must have had a dream like that, and something happened to stop that being put into practice”, pondered Ms Triplett.
“But I think she’s quite robust and spirited and as front footed as she is in that ballet room. I have that kind of spirited ‘go get it’ attitude, so there’s lots that I can relate to with her.
“I love the way she fights for Billy. When she sees something in him, she’s like a dog with a bone. Just brilliant”.
Set amidst the increasingly bitter 1984/85 miners’ strike, Billy Elliot the Musical is a tale of determination, acceptance and daring to be different, as the main character breaks the mould and learns to accept his dancing desires.
It is a heartwarming message which appeals to the masses, including Sally Ann herself, who remembers watching the movie over and over with her son when it first came out in 2000.
“I don’t know how many times we watched it, but there are four bits in it which always get me without fail. The Dad is so heartbreaking. All I have to do Is turn it on, get to that bit and I’m gone”, she revealed.
“It’s heartbreaking, but it’s also so uplifting. It’s raw and it’s about real people – people coming together, not people living their own singular lives. It’s about community and the spirit of that.”
The titular role of Billy Elliot, will be performed at Curve by Leo Hollingsworth from Nottinghamshire, Alfie Napolitano from Northamptonshire, Samuel Newby from Hertfordshire and Jaden Shentall-Lee from whose family live in Leicestershire.
Sally Ann praised the talent of these incredible youngsters, and said it was a pleasure to perform alongside them in the production, which is being directed by Nikolai Foster.
Asked what people can expect from Billy Elliott the Musical, Sally Ann said that they can expect to feel a plethora of emotions; highs, lows and everything in-between.
“It’s a tale of determination, acceptance and daring to be different, which will stir emotions, but also uplift and empower the audience”, she said.
“Expect to be moved – to laugh, to cry to feel something and to go out on a real high. Hopefully”.
To find out more about Billy Elliott and other shows at Curve, visit: www.curveonline.co.uk
By Louise Steel