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The FINAL SAY-SO Dani Harmer grows up ; Dani Harmer, 24, talks about making the transition from teenager Tracy Beaker to the sexual Janet Weiss in...

August 17, 2013

YellowBrix

The FINAL SAY-SO Dani Harmer grows up ; Dani Harmer, 24, talks about making the transition from teenager Tracy Beaker to the sexual Janet Weiss in The Rocky Horror Show, which comes to Nottingham next month

I'VE been a massive fan of the Rocky Horror Show for as long as I can remember; it's always been one of my favourite musicals.

I've seen the show a million times and the film as well. When the part was offered to me, I pretty much chewed their arm off.

I'm playing Janet. She's this very sweet, all-American, innocent young lady, but as the show progresses she gets somewhat corrupted and becomes quite sexual.

I don't think there is any preparing you can do for Rocky Horror until you're actually on stage experiencing it. The audience shout throughout and you never really know what they're going to say. Every show is different - you just have to be as prepared as you can be.

The audience are as much involved in the show as the cast. They get dressed up, they sing along, they bring their own props and it's the only show where you get to shout abuse at the actors.

I think that's why it's been going for so long, that and the brilliant script and really good songs.

I haven't seen Richard O'Brien, who wrote the show, while I've been performing but I did meet him when we did the Queen's 80th birthday show a few years ago. He was dressed up as the child catcher at the time and I was only 16. It was a great experience. We had a barbecue in her garden. It was quite surreal.

I was born in Ascot in Berkshire. I'm still living there because with touring I'm never really at home. It's nice to have a base that's close to my family. Although I'm hoping to move to London next month with Lisa Riley, who I worked with on Strictly. That should be a riot.

I wanted to be an actor for as long as I can remember. I went to part-time drama classes on Saturday mornings and when I was six.

I got my first job in a musical called Tommy in the West End. That's kind of what sparked it all really. I'd love to act alongside Julie Walters. She's a big heroine of mine; she's absolutely fabulous.

Performing has definitely given me more confidence. You've got to have confidence to stand there in your underwear in front of an audience.

Strictly (after the TV show, Dani was among the celebrities at the Capital FM Arena earlier this year on the dancing tour) was the highlight of my professional career so far.

Although it was playing Tracy Beaker that taught me everything I know. I grew up quite quickly in that environment.

I've done a bit of presenting and I'd never say never but it's not really my strong point. I find it quite difficult to be myself in front of the camera.

I go straight on to panto in Reading when I finish The Rocky Horror Show. I'm playing a princess in Jack and the Beanstalk. Normally I get cast as the boy, so that will make a nice change. I actually get to wear a dress at Christmas.

After that I've no idea where I'll be performing, which is all very exciting, but I'm opening up an academy, in Ascot, next month.

It's going to be three hours every Saturday morning; singing, dancing and acting. I'd always wanted to do it but I've been too busy. Since Strictly my profile has been slightly higher, so I decided it was probably the right time to do it.

I want kids to really enjoy performance because I think it's becoming too hidden by the desire to be famous. It's a great hobby. It's an even greater career. But you do need a really thick skin to be in this industry; there are a lot of knock backs.

? Dani Harmer is in The Rocky Horror Show at the Theatre Royal from Monday, September 23 to Saturday, September 28. Tickets are Pounds 18 to Pounds 34.50 from the box office, call 0115 989 5555 or go to trch.co.uk.

TAMSIN PARNELL

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