Verity Rushworth is currently starring as Vera Claythorne in the 2015 UK Tour production of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None.
Verity’s theatre credits include: Velma Kelly in Chicago (Leicester Curve), Maria in The Sound of Music (UK Tour), Penny Pingleton in Hairspray (Shaftesbury Theatre), Carnaby Street (UK Tour), Merrily We Roll Along (Clwyd Theatre Cymru), The Seven Year Itch (Salisbury Playhouse) and Annie (West Yorkshire Playhouse).
At the age of twelve Verity was cast as Donna Windsor-Dingle in ITV’s Emmerdale. She played the role between 1998 and 2009 before returning to the role last year, receiving a NTA nomination for Best Serial Drama Performance.
I recently spoke to Verity about her latest stage role, why she’s learning every day and which iconic role she currently has her eye on…
And Then There Were None couldn’t be more different to Emmerdale, Chicago and everything else you’ve been up to recently. Were you looking for a change?
Definitely! When I did Chicago, Velma Kelly was a character I couldn’t say no to. It was amazing for me because I would normally play the sincere, girl-next door, good characters – like Maria in The Sound of Music or Penny in Hairspray. Velma was so different for me, I got to be really sexy and sassy and show my dance training and be really dark. I relished that, and then I was asked to go back into Emmerdale for a particular story. I never thought it would have the impact that it has had and that I would enjoy it as much as I did. It was an amazing opportunity for me to be back on screen and I thoroughly enjoyed the storyline, it was fantastic. Then I made a conscious decision to do a play; I’ve got a lot of TV experience and lots of musical theatre experience but I had only ever done one straight play so this came up and I grabbed the opportunity with both hands. It’s a new challenge!
It’s such a classic! If there is anyone out there who doesn’t know anything about And Then There Were None, what do you think they can expect?
I think it is Agatha Christie’s best! I feel privileged to be part of this particular company – the Agatha Christie company – because, I have to say, our director Joe Harmston is incredible. He helps you understand everything; there are double meanings to everything. What’s different about this piece is that it’s not a whodunnit, it’s a why-dunnit. If people are coming thinking that it’s going to be in a cosy comfy cottage where they just try and figure out who the murderer is that’s not what they’re going to get. They’re going to get a real, psychological thriller thrown into the depths of one’s conscience and why people do what they do. It’s a bit more chilling than what you expect – it’s more interesting and it’s darker. You will be more freaked out by it – it’s a moving, soulful experience. The script is beautiful and it’s a fantastic cast!
Verity and Frazer Hines in And Then There Were None
It’s amazing how such an old play can still have such a big impact – it’s not dated!
I know – it is still so shocking! This play is set in 1939 but could be present day and it would still be completely shocking. People’s morals haven’t changed in the way people like to be seen in front of others. It is still very relevant; it has definitely held its own.
What has everyone been like to work with?
There are some absolute legends – I’m working with veterans and am learning every day. I thought that having a brilliant director was a godsend, but I’m actually learning from every single member of the company. There's Paul Nicholas and then Frazer Hines, who I have an Emmerdale connection with. I was a big fan of Bugsy Malone so was a bit star struck when I met Mark Curry! I’m very lucky to be surrounded by such amazing, experienced people who I can learn something from every single day.
Ahhh! I was so shocked and so thrilled! Only because it meant I got to go. I’m absolutely overwhelmed; I left the show in August so can’t believe I got the votes. It just means so much to me! The thought that those people were actually rooting for me is quite touching!
You have played so many iconic roles – Maria, Penny, Velma and so on. Which one would you like to tick off next?
There are loads! Do you know what one I would like to do? Sweet Charity! I would love to be the lead in Sweet Charity, I think I would be quite suited to that role – she’s a bit geeky and doesn’t quite fit in. Also you have to be an all-rounder which I think is really special. I love dance so think I would really enjoy it.
Finally, I’m sending you to a desert island and you can take three musical theatre songs with you. Which three are you going to take and why?
Right! I’m going to take ‘Carrying The Banner’ from Newsies. Then it has to be Ramin (Karimloo) singing 'Til I Hear You Sing’ from Love Never Dies because – oh my god – he’s just amazing, I’ll have a reflective moment [laughs]. I’ve got a contemporary upbeat, I’ve got an old school ballad, I think I need… ahh this is really hard… it has to be ‘Without Love’ from Hairspray!
Interviewed by Andrew Tomlins (Editor)
Photo Credit 3: Pamela Raith
And Then There Were None tours the UK until Saturday 22nd August 2015.
Please visit www.kenwright.com for further information, tour dates and tickets.