Welcome to the Forties where
you can get to know our talents as The Forces Sweethearts
Louise graduated from Mountview Theatre School in 1996. After making
her professional debut playing Heather, in the BBC sitcom, 'Grown
Ups', she went to appear in 'Peak Practice', 'Band of Gold' (series
3) and Brookside. Louise has also made numerous TV Commercials.
Her theatre credits include the D'oyly Carte Opera Company's West
End productions of the 'Mikado' and 'The Pirates of Penzance'. She
has appeared in the 'Little Shop of Horrors', 'Escape from
Pterodactyl Island', 'Yee Haw' and 'Trial by Jury', all in London.
Louise also appeared for a season with the G & S Opera Company
for the Buxton Opera House, and a very successful run as a tap
dancing cow in 'Jack and the Beanstalk' at the Salisbury Playhouse.
Deborah graduated from Mountview Theatre School in 1996. She made
her professional debut in 'Les Miserables' at the Palace Theatre in
London's West End.
Her other West End credits include, 'A Midsummer Nights Dream',
'Troilus and Cressida' and 'Gentleman prefer Blondes'. She also had
a leading role in 'Forbidden Broadway' at the Albery Theatre,
London, where her Barbera Streisand impersonation is still talked
Deborah has worked extensively in regional theatre, appearing in
'The Magic Flute', 'The Mikado', 'Toad of Toad Hall' and 'Pirates of
Penzance'. She was also lucky enough to tour internationally with
'Midsummer Nights Dream' to Abu Dhabi and Dubai..
Louise and Deborah - The Forces
Digger of www.retrosellers.com
talks to Louise Van De Bours about her shows, The West End Girls
and Forces Sweethearts
Digger: Hello Louise.
Louise: Hello David.
Digger: Being a forties performer, youíve got to watch out for Dr
Who this weekend because itís got the Daleks and itís set in
WWII with Churchill calling the Doctor for help!
Louise: (Laughs) I love Matt Smith. I havenít watched the second
episode yet. It should be hilarious. Iíve got a friend who writes for
Dr Who and we used to get a lot of the scripts from charity
auctions. Mark Gatiss Ė he was in The League of Gentlemen. He
played the mad butcher and was the mad scientist in one of the Dr
Who episodes. A very aged scientist who reversed the ageing process.
He also wrote a couple, including The Idiotís Lantern, which
featured David Tenant set in the 1950s where people were brainwashed through
Digger: Ah yes, Maureen Lipman.
Louise: Thatís right.
Digger: Iíve got a good memory for trivia but can't remember why I
walked into a room.
Louise: Theyíve got brilliant writers on there. I really enjoyed
the first episode and my girls did. I like Matt Smith based on
other things heís done so I think heíll be really good.
Digger: Iím just looking forward to the day when Dr Who is a lady.
Louise: Well, will that ever happen?
Digger: Yes it will. Joanna Lumley played the Doctor in a Comic
Relief sketch. There was a funny bit where she woke up and was
reincarnated and had Madonna-style prominent ladybumps and she
compared them to the bumps on a Dalek.
Louise: I think the day will come when they're brave enough.
Digger: If we can have a lady Prime MinisterÖ
Louise: We can have a lady Dr Who.
Digger: Can you tell me the background to The West End Girls and
Louise: Deborah and I met at drama school. Mountview Theatre School
in London and graduated in 1996. After that we then went on to
appear in most of the musicals in the West End. Between us I think
weíve done about fifteen, things like Les Miserables, Chicago. I
was in the D'oyly Carte Opera Company for three years in residence
at The Savoy in London... The Mikado, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,
Pirates of Penzance, Trial By Jury.
Digger: Every genre.
Louise: Yes, literally across the board, which is really fascinating
and interesting, so we were very lucky. And then in 2000 we decided
Debbie wanted a little break, as did I, so she went travelling and
went to live in Australia for a year and I had my two daughters.
When she came back we thought ďWhat are we gonna do?Ē We
didnít really want to go back into the West End anymore, we wanted
to work for ourselves, so we formed West End Girls. At first we
based the act on the musicals that weíd appeared in.
Digger: Itís a great name. You were very canny and very lucky that
it hadnít already been used.
Louise: I know, weren't we just? We put a show together based on
what we knew and our experiences in the West End, and in part of that
show we did a little medley of Glen Miller. And it was at one show
we were doing, I canít remember who it was so I canít credit
this to them, but she said ďI love that Glen Miller stuff, did you
know thereís a massive 1940s scene Ė you should really think
about doing something for that.Ē She put the idea in our heads and
basically we did a bit of research and Iíd always been into the
Big Band Sound. But Debbie knew absolutely nothing about it at all.
We listened to a lot of The Andrews Sisters and a lot of the Big
Band stuff and we thought ďRight, letís do it.Ē So we gave the
show a name Ė The Forcesí Sweethearts and I put a 1940s show
together. And since then itís been absolutely crazy.
Digger: I didnít realise this until quite recently that the
forties thing is bigger than all of the other decades for some
Louise: Absolutely, itís huge. I think itís because thereís
that whole sense of nostalgia. When you go to these events they take all the good bits of that era Ė the
fashion, the camaraderie. That is what makes the events
Digger: And the flag waving.
Louise: Yes, and I think thatís wonderful and itís fantastic to
be patriotic. And when you do these big events and you have the Pomp
and Circumstance-type endings the people love that and it gives them
a reason to be patriotic.
Digger: Do you go to Scotland and Wales?
Louise: Weíve been to Wales a few times.
Digger: I just wondered what the impact would be there.
Louise: In Wales it was exactly the same. Lots of flag waving and we
had a really great time.
Digger: Not Scotland yet.
Louise: Thatís right David, not yet! But thatís how it all came together.
Digger: Would you call yourself a tribute act?
Louise: I suppose we would. A unique one to The Andrews Sisters and
Vera Lynn really. And very unique, because thereís only two of us,
obviously. Weíre starting work on May 8th with something called
The Spitfire Ball and weíre touring around the UK. With that tour
itís interesting that rather than it being one or two artists
covering many different things, they've got acts coming to do what
they do best. So weíre coming to do The Andrews Sisters and
thereís another female singer coming along to do the Vera Lynn
singalong type of stuff. A 1940s comedian and a band all under the
umbrella of The Spitfire Ball. I think that works better.
Digger: Are people encouraged to dress up in forties gear?
Louise: 1940s costume encouraged. Not compulsory Ė lots of people
at these events do dress up and get into the spirit of things
which is great fun.
Digger: What are the best aspects of doing what you do?
Louise: The music. Definitely, for me, because I am a great fan of the music. Actually
having sung with The John Miller Orchestra - that was absolutely
amazing. And just the people that you meet. Because the scene is so massive
but also in some ways itís a little bit insular and you get a lot
of the same people at different events. So you actually make friends
and then theyíll come up to you at the next event.
Louise: I donít know whether Iíd call them groupies exactly
(Laughs) but certainly people who are pleased to see us again and
itís always lovely to recognise people and they have a dance when
we sing. Lots of the events that we do have dance floors and again
itís encouraged. Weíve had forties DJís and bands where they
demonstrate dances and they are fantastic fun.
Digger: Lindy Hop?
Louise: Yes, Ian Hartley and his wife do GI Jive and itís quite
brilliant and they have their own dances. When weíre singing
and theyíre dancing I get absolutely carried away.
Digger: Do you have a live band or a backing track?
Louise: Both I would say, when weíre booked on our own we have a
backing track. We work very closely with a guy in the studio and the
reason why we love our backing tracks is because all the instruments
are recorded separately. So it's not like singing to a karaoke track.
We love them, and because we do them ourselves we put together
medleys and things that other people haven't got. We get a lot of
artists and singers saying "Ooh, can we have a copy of
Digger: Stars on 45, but from the forties.
Louise: Exactly, but we never give them away because we spent good
money on them. It's things that people haven't heard put together before.
And artistically we can put our own kind of slant on things
harmony-wise and be really creative which is what we really love to
do. We also play with bands backing us at other events.
Digger: Do you sell CDs after the show?
Louise: Yes, although I have to go and get another big bunch of them
now, actually, because we've just sold the last one at the weekend.
The CDs we have at the moment are half and half - half is 'West End'
and half is 1940s stuff.
Digger: What are your future plans?
Louise: We're recording a new CD next month which will be purely the
1940s stuff and it will be a live CD, exciting because we're
recording it at one of the shows we will be doing at The Spitfire
Digger: Do you know which one it's going to be?
Louise: They'll record a few shows and then mix it and edit it
together in the studio. We want to put together a new West End CD as
well with tracks we've just learned.
And it's basically just busy this summer because the 1940s season
kicks off big-style with the East Lancs Railway on the May Bank
Holiday. So we're headlining at that event and that will start the
season off for us throughout the summer. Everybody welcome and a superb
event. It goes over three days - Saturday to Monday. We'll be there
on the Sunday and Monday at Bury Station all day on Sunday and then
on Monday we're at Ramsbottom Station in the morning. Which is
fantastic because there's a massive platform so you get lots of
dancing. And then, in the afternoon, it's at the cathedral in the town
and there's a big concert with the Fairey Brass Band who won
Britain's best brass band. Me and Deb with the band and it has a
last night of the proms-type finale.
Digger: How many people do you expect to that event?
Louise: Usually the church is packed, standing room, because it's
free as well. People are charged for their rail tickets but the
entertainment and reenactments and concerts are all free. It's
literally like stepping back in time when you go into the stations
and the steam trains are coming in and you're singing We'll Meet
Again or I'll Be Seeing You and with people dressed-up. It's really evocative
of the period. It's one of our favourite gigs.
For Bookings, information or Demo CD, please contact
Louise on 01260 - 290802 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org