Vampires Come Alive For The Rock Queen

Vampires Rock is a show like no other, with a twist of rock, a splash of musical theatre, and a generous helping of fun. But be warned, audiences attending the tongue-in-cheek show may find it hard to sit still, especially when Toyah Willcox is on stage, writes Susan Welsh

Slipping into a saucy skin-tight red leather costume and killer heels is one thing. Wearing the body-hugging costume while giving your all in a high-energy musical that requires you to sing and dance on stage is quite another, especially when, whisper it, the wearer turned 50 earlier this year.

At an age when some gals have quietly begun eyeing up outfits to disguise middle-age spread, singer and actress Toyah Willcox is getting ready to don an outfit that skims her body like a second skin.

Luckily, she’s in extremely good shape, as those with tickets for Vampires Rock, a lively rollercoaster of a horror musical which visits Inverness and Aberdeen this month, will soon see for themselves.

Vampires Rock, a tongue-in-cheek comedy created by Steve Steinman, is set in New York in the year 2030, when the rather lively undead are living among us. Steve Steinman, with his typical sense of cheeky humour, plays the charismatic and supremely evil Baron Von Rockula, owner of the Live and Let Die Club.

In search of a bride, the Baron must convince his chosen one to agree to eternal immortality, to be his queen and live forever.

Enter the equally watchable and talented Ms Willcox.

“I play the devil Queen who is married to Baron Von Rockula, a part which men and women in the audience can relate to as it is about the biggest cliche in history – man wants to trade in current wife for a younger version.

“In this case, the baron wants to trade in his 2,000-year-old wife, that’s me, for a newer model, ” said Toyah.

“The audience love the story and go bonkers, but there’s a twist in the tale which allows my character to develop throughout the show and fight to get him back.

“We use classic rock songs and anthems to carry the story right the way through the show with numbers by Bon Jovi, Alice Cooper, White Snake, Cher, Rolling Stones, Billy Idol – the list goes on and on.

“One of the reasons people love the show, especially those who are into rock music, is because there’s a full band on stage – there are no corners cut on this production.

“It’s full of pyrotechnics, has a great stage set and fabulous costumes.

“It’s quite glam rock, too, and harks back to the 1970s when you had the likes of Roxy Music, David Bowie, T Rex and Alice Cooper all donning eye liner and wearing high heels.

“My costume is very much part of that era and it slots in beautifully,”

Which brings us rather neatly to that showstopping costume. How does she manage to stay slim enough to fit into it?

“I’m on stage with four of the most beautiful dancers I’ve ever worked with and they’re all well under 25.

“That makes you work hard but, to be honest, I can’t eat very much while I’m rehearsing and have to do about 200 sit-ups a day, which at times is miserable,” said the star, who has an impressive 32 years under her showbiz belt.

Despite constant demands on her time – she has a new album out and tours regularly with her band, she’s a TV favourite guesting on everything from Tonight with Trevor Macdonald to I’m a Celebrity . . . Get Me Out of Here! – Toyah was keen to get back to live theatre.

“Vampires Rock has been around for about five years and in all that time I’ve never heard anything but good of it,” she said.

“Where it is exceptional, purely on a business level, is that it sells out almost everywhere, yet it is a relatively brand-new, untold story.

“Steve Steinman, who created it, has been asking me for two years to come on board. This is the year I said yes, and already it seems that the show and me are made for each other.”

While Toyah always goes down a storm when she plays live, it’s in front of the camera that she feels right at home.

“I have tackled music, film, television, theatre, plays, reality shows, but I think now is a very interesting time in terms of media, because no one knows where anything is going, but the one constant is that people want live shows and, luckily for me, that’s what I do.”

Recently, Toyah played Billie Piper’s mother in the TV show Diary of a Call Girl, and next year she’s set to film a British movie called The Power of Three.

One movie she will always be linked to is the cult 1979 movie Quadrophenia, which tells the story of two rival gangs of 1960s mods and rockers and set to the music of The Who.

“I’m really glad I took part in the film, not just because I got to work with Sting and Phil Daniels, but because it was quite an experience just filming it.

“We could never have guessed at the longevity the film would enjoy, and it’s great to see generation after generation discovering the film and identifying with it.”

Aberdeen Press & Journal
November 2008