Carol Harrison has been announced as the final star to be cast in the all-female world premiere preview of The Thunder Girls at The Lowry Tue 24 – Sat 28 September. Carol will star alongside Coronation Street’s Beverley Callard, Queen of Day Time TV, Coleen Nolan and West End’s All About Jamie star, Mina Anwar.
The Thunder Girls is a true celebration of women. All four of The Thunder Girls actresses are over 50, one of the most under-represented demographics in the UK entertainment industry. The show has a female writer, female producer and female director and all from working class roots – another area which is under represented in mainstream media. The debut play by Melanie Blake is an adaptation from her first novel of the same name which will be released by Pan Macmillan this summer. The week long premiere preview will open at The Lowry, Salford on 24th September 2019 and tickets are on sale now. The run is nearly sold out in record time for a completely new piece.
Carol Harrison takes on the role of Chrissie, former lead singer of The Thunder Girls, who at the height of the band’s success, ditched the others to pursue a solo career, taking their manager, Rick, her bandmate’s boyfriend with her. Chrissie would trample on anyone to get to the top and stay there. For decades Chrissie maintained her stardom whilst the other girls’ lives and careers fell apart. Now Chrissie must face the former friends and bandmates she cast aside without looking back to join her at Wembley Stadium for the pay cheque of their lives. But can a price be put on pain, anger, heartache and betrayal – at The Reunion Dinner From Hell – the audience are about to find out…
The Thunder Girls follows an ‘80s girl group reuniting 30 years after greed, envy and egos tore their friendship and the band apart. The play focuses on what goes on during the night from hell when lead singer Chrissie tries to reunite the band she dumped. Chrissie is desperate to salvage herself from bankruptcy after being conned out of her fortune by her toy boy husband. But is there a fee which can heal the wounds? Or maybe some friendships never die, even if you want them to?
They say write about what you know, and as one of the UK’s most powerful music managers, Melanie has lived and breathed The Thunder Girls. Melanie came from nothing but was inspired by Jackie Collins’ books and ‘80s television to believe that she could become whoever she wanted to be. She started her career at Top of the Pops working with the biggest names in showbiz from Destiny’s Child to The Spice Girls and went on to become a manager to some of the biggest names in pop.
Melanie Blake, Writer, says: Carol Harrison’s performance in Eastenders as Louise Raymond twenty years ago burned up the screen. This was when I started writing The Thunder Girls. And Carol’s performance made such an impact on me, that there was never any doubt that she would be the perfect actress to play The Thunder Girls’ protagonist, Chrissie Martin.
I was familiar with Carol’s great body of work before Eastenders but it was as Louise that she captured me, as well as millions, as she smashed her way through that famous Square giving Walford some of its finest moments. We knew she’d moved behind the scenes and didn’t know if we could tempt her back, so when Carol accepted the challenge of playing Chrissie Martin, the hostess at our Dinner Party from Hell, the whole team were delighted.
Carol completes a fantastic cast of 4 incredibly strong, vibrant and talented women who are going to give our audience the night of their lives as they tear up the stage (almost literally!) At the World Premiere Preview of The Thunder Girls this September at The Lowry, Salford.
Carol Harrison says: “When I left Eastenders, I was in my mid-forties and felt I had so much to more to give. I had worked constantly for 25 years up to that point but it soon became apparent that after ‘Louise Raymond’, my character in Eastenders, there were very few decent parts being written for working class women of my age and the handful that I was offered were stereotypical downtrodden, dowdy and broken. I didn’t feel old or past it, but according to the industry, I was. That hurt me as an actress and as a woman. At the same time my relationship had broken up and I was bringing up my son, Alfie, alone. I couldn’t hang on forever waiting for the phone to ring about a role which excited me, I had a child to support – I had to survive. So I went back to writing, and for the past 20 years have been behind the scenes writing, producing, directing and teaching.
While I am very proud of my achievements, acting is and always has been my first love. But of course, like “love” it has often been unrequited. I am absolutely thrilled to be playing the role of Chrissie Martin in The Thunder Girls and am honoured to be working alongside such a wonder bunch of glorious awe-inspiring women. What I love most about the part of Chrissie Martin is her passion and tenacity. She is determined to continue to follow her dream, to not be thrown on the scrapheap because she has lost her youth and therefore her ‘relevance’. She is a fighter, ready to stand up to whatever life throws at her.
The Thunder Girls is an incredibly well written, blisteringly powerful play, which leads the audience on a rollercoaster journey, full of love, passion, tears and laughter. In thirty years apart, these women have seen their livelihoods lost, their creativity crushed and relationships torn apart. It’s a story of struggle and survival, and it’s a struggle that I can totally relate to in my own life, and which draws me even closer to this exciting role and why, for the first time in twenty years away from the spotlight, I just had to say yes. I’ve waited decades for such a brilliant and fulfilling character to come along and finally, here she is! I am Back.”
Angela Squire, Producer, says: “Carol Harrison was born to play Chrissie Martin. We are delighted that The Thunder Girls is the work which has tempted her back into the spotlight, where she belongs. Carol Harrison is an accomplished actress and it is that superb mastery of her craft coupled with Carol’s own rollercoaster life experiences which will make her performance as Chrissie Martin nothing short of electrifying.
We are proud to have created 4 strong roles for actresses over 50, all from working class backgrounds, who will be giving the performances of their lives for our packed audiences in The Lowry, Salford.”