After nine months touring the world with ‘Mamma Mia’, Ashley J. Russell can’t wait to tuck into a square sausage.
Ashley is starring in the musical based on Abba music and has been on the road since September last year, taking in South Korea and Switzerland so far.
The tour comes to Blackpool later this month, meaning Ashley is just three hours from her family in Falkirk, and her much-missed Scottish delicacies.
The Falkirk Herald spoke to the actress as she finished up five weeks in Basel and prepared to head to the bright lights of Blackpool.
Ashley said: “I’m so excited to be close to home and my family, friends and boyfriend. It’s been lovely to spend the last nine months travelling the world, doing what I love, but I can’t wait to see everyone and get a square sausage. After six month in South Korea eating noodles every day, I’ve been dreaming about a roll and square sausage!”
The former Falkirk High pupil graduated from Queen Margaret University and Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts then competed on the BBC show ‘I’d Do Anything’ in 2008, a TV search to find an actress to play Nancy in ‘Oliver’.
She didn’t win but the experience and exposure led to roles in ‘We Will Rock You’ and ‘Shrek: The Musical’ in London’s West End.
Following the run of ‘Shrek’, Ashley accepted the role of ensemble/understudy for characters Donna, Rosie and Tanya and departed for South Korea, playing three cities in the country over six months then heading to Switzerland. Following the Blackpool run, the tour moves on to Hong Kong and continues until January.
She added: “We haven’t confirmed where we will be after Hong Kong, so it’s a bit of a mystery tour. I’ve been so lucky since graduating and not had many resting periods at all, for that I’m very grateful. This tour has been amazing, I’m getting paid to travel the world and do what I love.
“I’ve been to some amazing places, that I probably wouldn’t have seen if it wasn’t for the tour. South Korea is a beautiful country and the audiences were wonderful.
“Although we worked hard, there was a bit of time to see the country and I even picked up a little Korean - enough to direct taxi drivers anyway!”
Abba music is popular in South Korea and the phrase ‘Mamma Mia’ is used to mean women’s liberation. The Korean-language version of the musical was a big hit but audience demand was also there for the British version.
Ashley, who is now based in Birmingham, continued: “It’s the first show I’ve done where a lot of the audience didn’t speak English. There were Korean subtitles on screens and they were very quiet and polite through the performance but went wild at the end. Switzerland was a little louder, and I think Blackpool will be crazy. Blackpool showing of ‘Mamma Mia’ on a Saturday night will be a real party atmosphere. Because it’s so close to Falkirk lots of friends and family are coming to see the show and I’ll be able to nip home sometimes too. Between finishing up in Switzerland, and starting the Blackpool dates, we have 10 days off so I’m coming back to Falkirk, catching up with everyone and enjoying a long, long overdue cuppa and roll with square sausage.”
‘Mamma Mia’ will be at the Blackpool Opera House from June 20 to September 14 with shows nightly and matinees on Saturday and Sunday. Tickets, priced £20-39.50, are available from www.ticketmaster.co.uk or by calling 0844 847 2517.