Since the current run of Heathers the Musical opened at The Other Palace last year, Ailsa Davidson has been playing lead character Veronica Sawyer and her portrayal of the role has seen her be nominated at this year’s West End Wilma Awards for Best Performer in an Off West End Show. Ailsa recently worked with Heathers the Musical writers Kevin Murphy and Laurence O’Keefe as well as director Andy Fickman when she played Veronica in the filmed version of the show, with the release date not yet announced. Having trained at Guildford School of Acting, Ailsa has worked on a number of projects including LipSync at Edinburgh Fringe in 2019, playing Judith in Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens at the Union Theatre, and she toured the UK as Miss Lynch in Grease, in which she also performed as cover Rizzo. Answering our questions, Ailsa recently spoke to us about playing Veronica Sawyer in Heathers the Musical, working on the filmed version and her time on the UK Tour of Grease.
You are currently playing Veronica Sawyer in Heathers the Musical at The Other Palace, what drew you to the role and what is she like to play?
I have always been a fan of the film. 80s cult classics are my genre of choice so that was the draw for me. Veronica is a very demanding role, she’s a vocal beast, there’s a lot of physically exhausting aspects whilst also dealing with heavy subject matter but all of this makes her a dream to play. She’s written so beautifully and it’s genuinely an honour to play her every night.
What was it like playing Veronica for the first time and seeing the audience response to your portrayal of the character?
It was hugely emotional. I burst into tears seeing the audience on their feet.
How does it feel being nominated at the West End Wilma Awards 2022 for Best Performer in an Off West End Show for your performance?
When I say I can’t believe it, I truly mean it. I’m nominated alongside artists that I have admired for a long time. I feel so grateful to have been selected for this category.
It’s been announced that you are playing Veronica in the filmed version, what was it like to film and what are you looking forward to for the release?
Yes! I am so thrilled to have had the opportunity to film Veronica. Our fan base is far reaching and I’m so glad we’ve found a way to be able to share this show globally. Filming was such an amazing experience. We had the writers Kevin Murphy and Laurence O’Keefe with us keeping everything precise and our amazing director Andy Fickman at the helm. I can’t wait for everyone to see it!
Have you had any stand-out highlights so far from working in the musical and with the rest of the cast?
Filming was a real bucket list moment for me, it felt like my dream job became something beyond my wildest dreams.
Is there anything you’re looking forward to most for continuing the run at The Other Palace?
I’m looking forward to working with the new cast members joining our company, it’s always a joy to see just how much our audiences celebrate new faces at Westerberg.
Can you tell us about being part of Edinburgh Fringe for LipSync in 2019?
It was probably the most life-affirming project I’ve ever been a part of. LipSync was a play that we devised based on the life of my, now great friend, Kirsty Young and her experience of life living with cystic fibrosis. To date, I’ve never learnt more on a job and I made great friendships through it too. Not to mention us winning a Fringe First for our work. It was an incredible chapter of my career.
What was it like playing Judith in Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens at the Union Theatre?
It was unbelievably brilliant. This project was so collaborative and creative because of the direction by Bryan Hodgson. The piece is so emotionally charged and it was a privilege to be a vessel for these hugely important stories.
You toured the UK as Miss Lynch in Grease, how was the experience?
Touring in a show like Grease is so much fun. Seeing the country doing a show that all audiences love really was such a brilliant experience.
As first cover Rizzo and second cover Jan, what were these roles like to do?
I absolutely adored covering on this job. I got to go on for Rizzo on several occasions and it’s such a thrill to do.
You workshopped Americana at the Theatre Royal Stratford East, how was it?
Workshopping is one of my favourite things to do creatively. Seeing a project grow from the seeds of an idea and being part of that growth is amazing.
Early in your career, you played Sarah in Our House, what do you remember most from performing in the musical?
I remember how much fun we had as a cast. We laughed every day!
Where does your love of performing come from and was there anything that encouraged you to train at Guildford School of Acting?
It comes from my parents. They have always loved the theatre and started taking me from a very early age. That’s where it all came from. I always say, when you audition for somewhere you get a feel of the place and that was what it was for me when I went to GSA. I just knew it was the school for me.
Do you have any favourite theatre shows to watch and which would you like to see that you haven’t done so as yet?
I went to see To Kill A Mockingbird recently and it blew my socks off! I love seeing a variety of work but I think a show like Come From Away is one I could go back to time and again. I’m desperate to see Mad House with David Harbour ASAP!
How do you like to spend your time away from your career?
I love visiting home, Scotland truly has my heart. Spending time with friends and family is so important to me and I also enjoy playing around on my film cameras snapping the world around me.
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