Among the stars in Newton Poppleford

West End actress enjoys new life in Newton Poppleford

TUCKED away behind a wooden gate off the main drag through Newton Poppleford, lives West End actress Daniele Coombe.

She moved from the frenzied life of London, back to her home county of Devon, last year, and has settled well in the village with partner Mark Chapman and children Louis, 11 and Tallulah, seven months.

Currently on maternity leave from acting, Daniele drew up a five-year plan before moving to Devon, which included buying a Monkey Music franchise to offer music classes to little ones as young as three months, because she felt there was a void in quality pre-school music and movement classes.

She has appeared in some top musicals in the West End, the latest, performed while pregnant with Tallulah, being Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, where she met one of its stars, Jason Donovan.

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Daniele has been a keen follower of his TV’s Strictly Come Dancing contest and said: “He is so hard-working in rehearsals. He is not a natural mover, he has to work hard because he’s not a gifted dancer.

“To see him doing Strictly recently was brilliant, he looked amazing and his dancing was brilliant.”

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Daniele’s role as Shirley in Priscilla was not glamorous: “I had saggy boobs filled with birdseed and a pretend thong” and her mullet-cut greasy wig, added cold sore and broken veins completed her look for the show, which closes this weekend.

“I did the part for two years and was pregnant when I left,” said Daniele, 37, who met the legendary Liza Minnelli at the time.

Originally from Torquay, Daniele went to drama school when she was 16 and was in the West End while still in her teens.

“I have been so lucky. I got front of house at Sunset Boulevard at the Adelphi Theatre selling ice creams and when they were re-casting a couple of us asked to audition.

“There was a Christmas party going on for everyone in the theatre and when asked if anyone would entertain, my friend Annette and I were the only ones who did a comedy sketch.”

Trevor Nunn, director of the show, was at the party and met her during final auditions.

“He said I know you. He remembered the party cabaret and offered me a part. I was 19.”

Daniele has enjoyed parts in many top shows, including an ensemble part in My Fair Lady, also directed by Trevor Nunn, Mrs Sowerberry in Oliver, Madame de la Grand Bouche – The Wardrobe – in the lavish production of Beauty and the Beast and Sally, appearing with Victoria Wood and Julie Walters in Acorn Antiques – The Musical.

She apologies for name-dropping, but it’s hard for her not to when she has been on stage with actors such as Jim Dale, Robert Lindsay, Norman Rossiter, Elaine Page and Martine McCutcheon.

Away from the West End, Daniele landed a bigger role in Mum’s the Word at the Salisbury Playhouse and is now good friends with Bernie Nolan (of Nolan Sisters fame) who appeared with her.

Setting her five-year plan in action she said: “I now have time to build up the Monkey Music business. It think it was the perfect thing for me to do. I know lots about music and performing and I know I’m a good teacher.

“The West End was sparkly and gorgeous and I love it and maybe I’ll do another show when the kids are older, but for now I want to give time back to my family.”

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