Night of 100 Voices. 

A night with many well-known names through one talented voice...

IT'S not every day during the course of one interview that you get the chance to talk to Paloma Faith, Fiona Bruce, Sandy Toksvig and Sarah Millican.

But then, it's not every day that the person on the other end of the line is Debra Stephenson, star of the hit TV impressions show Dead Ringers plus super soap Coronation Street and drama Bad Girls.

Debra, 43, is preparing for her most ambitious project yet, a spectacular theatre show - Night of One Hundred Voices - which begins a national tour at the Lowry, Salford Quays, next Sunday.

"It is going to be hugely demanding," she said, "I really will be doing 100 different voices during the evening."

Backed by the James Stead Orchestra, Debra will be able to indulge her great love of singing as she recreates the songs of Ella Fitzgerald, Sandy Shaw and Kate Bush.

"Oh, having an orchestra is a total indulgence on my part," she laughed. "I'll be taking the audience on a musical journey through the decades as some of my favourite singers - and that's just the first half of the show.

"The second half will concentrate more on movie stars and TV personalities."

 
 

Unlike her irreverent impressions on Dead Ringers, the show will be a serious tribute to singers that Debra admires.

"There are so many songs," she said, shuffling through the running order that's in front of her. "It's demanding enough for a singer to run through seven or eight songs in a set. What have I let myself in for?"

For the second half of the show, although music will be to the fore, the audience may well be introduced to characters such as Cheryl Fernandez-Virsini and Davina McCall.

"I really enjoy live work," said Debra, "but this is a big step for me and I really don't know how it's all going to pan out.

"My career has been all over the place. Some people will remember me from Coronation Street (in which she played Frankie Baldwin for over two years) and Bad Girls (her portrayal of Shell Dockley saw her twice nominated for a National Television Award) and then there have been all the comedy impressions.

"This show is almost like starting over for me. It is not something I've ever done before and I just hope that people will come along and enjoy it."

As Debra switches mid sentence from one star voice to another during the course of our conversation - each one of them uncannily accurate - you start to wonder if there isn't anyone she can't do an impression of.

"Not everyone is rich for an impression," she said. "You do need them to have something specific to allow you to concentrate on. I find that news reporters all sound basically the same, apart from Fiona Bruce (at this point Ms Bruce disconcertingly comes on the line) who has this slightly sultry tone and rising eyebrow.

"You just have to work at getting things right and usually I get there in the end.

"I really wanted to do Paloma Faith who has such a distinctive way of speaking but I struggled with it until my pal Jon Culshaw from Dead Ringers suggested I should base her around David Beckham and it worked."

Debra then launches into a detailed explanation of Paloma's vocal quirks as explained by the star herself.

Night of One Hundred Voices year was first tried out last year.

"We did a test run with it and it went so well," she said. "Now I can't wait to get into the swing of things and take it on a full tour.

"It's going to be a night of music and comedy, a part walk down memory lane. Just a real fun evening."

Lancashire Telegraph.

‘An amazingly accomplished performer’ – Radio Times