Interview: Ruth Betteridge reveals more family history in Love Birds

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Ruth Betteridge as Valentine Macaw in Love Birds. © Steve Ullathorne

Ruth Betteridge as Valentine Macaw in Love Birds. © Steve Ullathorne

Continuing our cast interview series, we catch up with Ruth Betteridge, who plays Love Birds‘ youngest Macaw Sister, Valentine. Read more about Ruth’s previous credits on the Love Birds cast page. Follow him on Twitter @BetteridgeRuth

Tell us more about your character, Valentine. She’s got quite an interesting father in Baalthazar. What do you think their family backstory is?

Greg350x460-love birds_0622Valentine is loving, thoughtful and hard-working. She is the youngest of the Macaw trio and daughter of Baalthazar [played by Greg Castiglioni], the star of the revue. I think Valentine’s mother tragically died when she was very young and so she was left to be brought up by Baalthazar, who never really planned to be a father. She adores him, but Baalthazar finds it more difficult to show Valentine how he feels. Having grown up in his shadow, Valentine wants to find her own voice but more than anything, she wants him to notice her. Much to her surprise, however, it’s the youngest penguin Puck [played by George Knapper] who’s the one to notice her and their affection for each other grows throughout the show. This is the first time Valentine has been in love, and although it frightens her, Puck proves to be a loving and dependable young penguin.

It has been so wonderful to discover and create the role of Valentine. She is a lovely character, who goes on a journey throughout the show as she discovers herself. I have had many opportunities to talk with Robbie Sherman about the role, and for an actor, this is such a privilege and a very exciting experience.

The costumes that the parrots wear in Love Birds are very feathery and colourful. Do they present any special challenges in performing?

I love the costumes so much! Gabi [designer Gabriella Slade] has done such a fantastic job, and many of the reviews mention just how vibrant and colourful they are. They did take some getting used to… I remember the first time we ran Tinpanorama in costume, there were feathers everywhere. If it wasn’t your own feathers in your face, it was someone else’s – it was very funny. Now the costume is so much a part of my character and brings the show to life. We also have amazing feather eyelashes, which seem to capture a lot of attention, especially from the young girls, who just stop and stare as we walk past on our way to the venue. It’s sweet.

Do you have a favourite lyric from the show?

This is difficult because there are so many great songs and lyrics in the show, but I would have to say that my favourite song is Tinpanorama. The title itself is a great word and there are so many great lyrics in this song. I particularly like the line “Lord please point me toward that clickety birdy in the rickety tree, his tickety talk is taking hold of me”. The word “tinpanorama” was made up by Robbie’s father, Robert B Sherman. It was the title of a 1965 LP record made following the success of Mary Poppins.

Ruth Betteridge, Anna Stolli and Joanna Sawyer performing Tinpanorama at the Pleasance Gala Launch

Ruth Betteridge, Anna Stolli and Joanna Sawyer performing Tinpanorama at the Pleasance Gala Launch

Love Birds opened the Pleasance Gala Launch this year, a real honour. What was that like on the day?

The Pleasance Gala Launch was such a great opportunity for us to promote the show and a brilliant experience. It was very strange performing Love Birds in such a big space, Pleasance Two is a lot smaller [750 vs 150 seats], but we all loved it. It really gave us a chance to make the most of Stewart Nicholls’ wonderful choreography, and the performance felt exciting and so full of energy. Interestingly, our own show an hour later was great. I think the adrenaline carried through, and the Launch certainly gave me the Edinburgh Fringe Buzz!

This is your first time performing at the Fringe. How would you describe it so far?

Yes, this is my first time performing at the Fringe, and I love it so much! Love Birds is a fabulous show to be involved in, with a lovely cast and crew – I couldn’t ask for more!

Your parents live in Edinburgh now. How has that affected your Fringe?

Mum and Dad have lived in Edinburgh for the past three years so I was very excited to be here for a month. I’m not staying with them while I’m here, but it is so lovely to see them whenever I can. It’s strange because, usually when I come home to visit them, I’m on holiday and can relax so this is very different. Still, we have had a chance to visit the coast, walk in the Pentland Hills, and I’ve had lots of lovely homemade meals. Mum and Dad have both seen the show and they’re coming again at the end of the run. They absolutely love it!



Doris, Dolly and the Dressing Room Divas

What other shows have you seen that you’d recommend?

The atmosphere of the festival is incredible. I have to remind myself to rest sometimes because it is so easy to spend all your time running around seeing shows and making the most of the experience. My favourite shows so far have been Showstopper! The Improvised Musical and Doris, Dolly and the Dressing Room Divas. Showstopper is an improvised musical – I have been three times already! The performers are so talented and the musicals they create are unbelievable, they are always extremely entertaining and hilarious. Doris, Dolly and the Dressing Room Divas is full of the secrets, songs and love lives of five legendary divas. It is very funny and the music is wonderful.