Toyah's Bringing her Wicked Side To Calderdale

The original red-haired rebel is coming to town as the evil Devil Queen in a vampire spectacular. But she has many other irons in the fire, as Pauline Hawkins finds out 

Rockers, like vampires, never die... they simply stake a claim to your heart by belting out timeless tunes that live on forever in the memory.

Red-haired rebel Toyah Willcox is currently spending her evenings with the undead as a cadaverous cast and mystical musicians blast their way through some of the greatest rock anthems ever written and performed.

Tracks from Meat Loaf, Rainbow, AC/DC, Alice Cooper, the Rolling Stones, Bon Jovi, Queen, Whitesnake, Bonnie Tyler and Cher are given fresh life as Vampires Rock prepares to bring pulsating sounds and pyrotechnics to the Victoria Theatre, Halifax.

Toyah, who turned 50 this year, shows no sign of ageing – thanks in part to a facelift five years ago – as she dons a figure-hugging red outfit and headgear shaped like ram's horns to star in Vampires Rock as the Devil Queen, wife of the supremely evil Baron Von Rockula.

The role is light years from some of her previous incarnations in the 1990s as the narrator of the BBC children's show Teletubbies and a presenter of Songs of Praise series.

But, as she points out, these appearances were more than 10 years ago. And she currently has a workload that would terrify most actresses half her age.

The Vampires Rock tour began in Retford, Nottinghamshire, in mid-September and finishes in London next February. But there will be time for her to enjoy Christmas and set about other projects, including the third series of Secret Diary of a Call Girl, starring Billie Piper, which is due to be filmed in the spring.

The musical comedy Vampires Rock is set in the future in New York, when the undead are livelier than ever and the charismatic and supremely evil Baron Von Rockula, owner of the Live and Let Die Club, is seeking a woman to agree to eternal immortality, be his queen and live forever.

The baron is played by Steve Steinman, who made his name as a Meat Loaf tribute act. The evil baron is looking to "trade in" Toyah's Devil Queen for another model.

"What I like about this show is that it is not every night, the dates are in batches," she says. "I am doing a lot of TV at the moment and I have an album in the iTunes chart and I'm preparing that for commercial release next Easter.

"I'm filming Supersize Me and Ready, Steady Cook at the moment, so it's quite mad.

"Originally I told Steve that I could fit in 20 dates and he said 44 theatres wanted the show. So I'm with film crews in the morning and as long as I'm at the theatre by 4pm, that's all that bothers him.

"I think Steve started the show in smaller venues but it has become so successful that he is booking larger and larger venues. We are going back to some places – Hull sold out immedaiately so we're going back for a second date.

"I open with one of my new songs, Lesser God, and the show is really about establishing the story through the lyrics of major rock anthems. The story is very light, but it's very loud rock and amazing pyrotechnics.

"People who have not seen the show before and don't know what it is are stunned. It's a very accomplished rock show. The band are phenomenal.

"It lacks the pomp of West End shows and is very inclusive of the audience. It's very lively, high-energy music and I get to play the baddie, which is a lot of fun. It is beautifully visual. I think people have been blown away by it."

Halifax Courier
November 2008