Actor and singer Ruthie Henshall brings Passion to her latest performance – Wigan Today

Over the years there have been at least 30.

And not so long ago, she spent almost three years playing the part of ballet teacher Mrs Wilkinson in Billy Elliot.

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Ruthie Henshall at Lytham Proms

Now it is time for a total change – and rehearsals are in full swing for a unique show with explores the emotion of passion in its many forms.

And the name of the show – Passion at the Hope Mill Theatre in Manchester, which runs from Thursday, May 5 to Sunday, June 5.

Based in 19th Century Italy, the production tells the tale of a young soldier named Giorgio, who is obsessively pursued by the relation of his superior officer Fosca – a woman prone to severe melancholy and mania.

Pausing from rehearsals, Ruthie, well-known as a Dancing on Ice contestant, said: “Passion is very different. I can promise the audiences that. In fact

it’s more like an opera than a musical.”

But first a look at her life.

She lives near Bromley in Kent – and she was young when she decided on a life in the theatre.

In fact, her mother was a drama teacher. And her father a journalist.

She said: “Ours was a house full of music and we seemed to turn everyday life into a drama.

“I watched for years as my father wrote about our local drama group. It seemed that culture was the name of the game.

“At first I fancied going into the ballet. But when I came face to face with the amazing discipline and the vast amount of commitment needed, I changed

my mind. I’ve never regretted it.

“Musicals took my attention quite early. I loved the happiness and the glamour.

“I’m a little amazed when I count up the number of musicals I’ve appeared in. And I love every minute.

“In Billy Elliot I was ever amazed at the work put in by the children. Truly lots of young stars in the making.

“They hadn’t a jot of fear at appearing on stage.”

Talking of the musical Passion, which will be directed by Michael Strassen, Ruthie said: “It’s fairly dark and it deals with love in its many forms. It’s the work of Stephen Sondheim who sadly died last year. Thankfully, his work lives on.

“It takes the audience on a fascinating and sometimes very sad journey. They see love at its most beautiful and as the action progresses, different aspects of love appear. We don’t forget that people kill for love.”

Ruthie added: “Looking back I’ve been so lucky to appear in so many great shows. Of course, many of them are well known to audiences, but Passion

is something completely new.”

But it was a spectacular performance in TV’s Dancing on Ice that truly thrust her into the brightest limelight of all.

Just now, Ruthie is rehearsing for the major dramatic role in “a musical that’s a bit like an opera.”

The show runs for a month – from April 5 to May 5 – at Hope Mill Theatre. For tickets, go to hopemilltheatre.co.uk

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