An eventful year for Shropshire actress Sophie Bould

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County actress Sophie Bould is far from home this Christmas - the first festive season she's spent away from Shropshire.

County actress Sophie Bould is far from home this Christmas - the first festive season she's spent away from Shropshire.

The 28-year-old is ending an eventful year starring in an award-winning musical of The Secret Garden, which opened to rave reviews in Edinburgh. And it's not only treading the boards which has kept Sophie busy during 2010.

"I managed to squeeze in a wedding and a honeymoon too!" said the former Thomas Telford School pupil, whose career has seen her appear on the London Palladium stage as both Liesl and Maria in The Sound of Music and on the small screen in BBC's Holby City. Sophie said there had been a few tears shed in recent weeks as family members braved the cold spell and a good few feet of snow to see her perform at the Festival Theatre in Edinburgh, before heading back home for Christmas.

"Luckily, this production has had a fairly intense rehearsal schedule and often we've got two performances a day, so keeping busy helps with the homesickness.

"Being away from home for Christmas for the first time was always going to be hard, but every few days I've had family or friends come to see the show and my husband is arriving in time for Christmas Day, so I'm really looking forward to seeing him."

The Newport actress married theatre production photographer Robin Savage in Shropshire in September, with a cast of West End stars, leading vocalists, a Bafta winner and even a Royal Shakespeare Company actor lending a hand with the celebrations.

Sophie appeared at Chichester Festival for a two month run during the summer, and planned a wedding in Shropshire at the same time."It was a big of a feat. I was in two productions, the Real Inspector Hound and The Critic, sharing a dressing room with Una Stubbs, and on the phone and the internet much of the time trying to arrange everything for the wedding.

"I was offered an extension to carry on by the producers, but had to turn it down because I was getting married the following weekend."


The newlyweds did manage to find time to have a honeymoon in St Lucia and a couple of weeks to enjoy married life before the hard work began in earnest for Sophie's next production. "Luckily, most the rehearsals for The Secret Garden were in London, so I could at least go home every night! But I arrived in Edinburgh at the end of November, and we don't finish until early January."

Sophie plays Lily Craven in the production, a ghost and mother of Colin Craven, the young crippled boy who is helped to walk and discovers the garden with orphan Mary Lennox.

Starring alongside new Danish star Caspar Phillipson and established British actors Siobhan Redmond and Norman Pace, formerly of comedy duo Hale & Pace, Sophie said the cast become like a family when working away from home. And the camaraderie and support of fellow cast members will become even more important early in the new year, when the production moves to Canada for a six week run in Toronto.

"It is a truly fantastic show, and the cast are brilliant. We've been really busy, working very hard, long days. I don't think any of us saw any daylight in the run up to opening night.

"And the show was fraught with problems in early December, with the heavy snowfall causing delays in getting the set to the theatre. At one point, we were forced to hire costumes as the official ones were stuck in a depot. Thankfully, it turned out fine when the airport opened, the costumes were flown to Glasgow and then brought to the theatre by courier about an hour before the first performance. Mine was literally thrown on me just before I went on stage! It has been a really challenging role, vocally it's the most challenging I ever done, but by doing it I've discovered a part of my voice I didn't know I had."

Away from the theatre, Sophie is planning a traditional Scottish Christmas with her husband, and her parents will be arriving in time for Hogmanay. "We're going to have a long walk on Christmas Day, Edinburgh is a fantastic city. Then it'll be a lovely long lunch and then I'm planning to sit down, watch some television and eat lots of chocolate!

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