Aberdeenshire actor Ailsa Davidson cannot wait to make her West End debut as the star of one of London’s hottest musicals, Heathers, when it opens tonight (November 25).
Catching up with Ailsa during her intense two-week rehearsal, the talented Ellon actress and former Aberdeen Youth Music Theatre member, said she was “absolutely buzzing” for the opening night at The Other Palace in London in her role as Veronica Sawyer.
“It’s been very quick and intense – it’s been a whirlwind,” said Ailsa about the rehearsal process.
“This is my first lead role so I’m really really excited. Especially coming out of the pandemic – it’s such a boost for me. I absolutely cannot wait.”
Heathers the Musical is returning to the stage after two smash-hit London seasons and the WhatsOnStage award for best new musical.
Based on the cult teen 80s film, which starred Winona Ryder and Christian Slater, it follows Westerberg High’s “nobody” Veronica Sawyer whose dreams of finally becoming popular come true when she joins the beautiful and impossibly cruel Heathers.
Things take a wild turn when Veronica’s new boyfriend – mysterious teen rebel JD – teaches her that it might kill to be a nobody, but it is murder being a somebody.
Starring as Veronica Sawyer in dark comedy Heathers
Ailsa said: “At the start, Veronica introduces you to high school life. Heathers are basically the premise of cliques in high school, showing what it’s like to be popular.
“These girls – Heathers – kind of rule the school and Veronica is taken into that group because she’s useful. For her, Heathers are kind of like a safety net of getting through high school, but along the way she meets this guy called JD who has a dark side.
“It is a dark comedy – there is a lot of… erm… murder.”
The duo end up killing a number of students, making it look like suicides. Ailsa and the rest of the cast and crew realise the magnitude of these issues and the actress says while the themes in the show are “very intense” they are “dealt with in a very careful way”.
“In the end, Veronica finds her moral high ground and saves the date and her classmates… that are still alive,” added Ailsa.
First West End solo show
While portraying Veronica will be Ailsa’s first lead role in West End musical theatre, she previously performed at London cabaret venue Crazy Coqs with her solo show titled Ailsa Davidson: 27 And A Half.
The actor said: “Before the pandemic happened I’ve been working as an actor on and off for six years. A producer saw me in a show and approached me about doing a solo gig at Crazy Coqs in London.
“That was supposed to happen in March 2020 but obviously, it had to be postponed because of the pandemic.”
The solo show was rescheduled and Ailsa performed at the West End venue in August.
She said: “The gig was quite a big step for me because it was just me and my gorgeous pianist (Flynn Sturgeon). I sang a selection of songs that meant a lot to me. It was an evening of what inspires me and how I came into the career that I have.”
Ailsa no longer has dream roles, but she has “dream things to do”.
She explained: “I decided quite a few years back that I won’t have dream roles anymore because it’s quite limiting and you feel like you failed if you don’t get them. But I do have some dream things to do.
“I would love to originate a role – be the first one to play the role – and be part of the original cast recording. I would love to work at The National. I’d love to work in Scotland and on TV. I feel like these kinds of tick-boxes are more manageable.”
Catch Ailsa Davidson in Heathers which is at London’s The Other Palace from November 25 to February 20 2022.