Sarah Harding on swapping pop hits for pottery in Ghost ahead of Sunderland show

Sarah Harding and Andy Moss in Ghost. Photos by Matt Martin.
Sarah Harding and Andy Moss in Ghost. Photos by Matt Martin.

Q:How exciting is it to be making your stage debut in Ghost - The Musical?

A: It’s a bit of everything – excitement, nervousness, fear, elation, everything really. I didn’t know if I had it in me to do a musical because when you’re doing film or TV you can always do retakes, but you can’t do that with a musical. But the one thing you do get is lots of rehearsal time, just like you would have if you were doing a concert tour.

It’s like a Girls Aloud tour, except instead of dancing I’m learning lines. I’m learning new songs but I don’t have to learn 20 new dance routines, it’s 20 pages – well, triple that – of dialogue. But your muscle memory takes over and it becomes second nature, just like it did when we were rehearsing our tours back in the day.

Q: What was it about this particular show that made you say yes?

A: I took it on because I really connected with the story. I think everyone can relate on some scale to losing somebody they’ve loved. It really isn’t hard for me to turn on the waterworks. (Laughs)

Q: Has musical theatre always been an ambition?

A scene from the new tour.

A scene from the new tour.

A: I did a bit of training in acting when I was younger but singing was always my forte. I’ve done a few bits and bobs acting wise, like St Trinian’s, but this is my first proper lead. There were a few female leads in St Trinian’s but this is the only female lead, apart from Oda Mae Brown (Jacqui Dubois).

It was the same with Girls Aloud; there was me and four other girls. Now when I’m singing my solo it’s all eyes on me and it’s me on my own. I don’t have my dancers like I would if I was doing a solo gig, it’s just me, I’m being Molly, I’m singing a heart-felt ballad and I’m acting at the same time, so it’s a completely different kettle of fish.

Q: What’s your take on Molly?

A: She’s a strong lady but she’s vulnerable. She’s lost the man she thought she was about to marry. She was deeply, devastatingly in love with Sam (Andy Moss) and he was taken from her so suddenly. They never had chance to say goodbye. There was no closure.

Jacqui Dubois as Oda Mae Brown.

Jacqui Dubois as Oda Mae Brown.

Q: Is she someone you can relate to?

Yes, I can. I’ve been heartbroken and it’s really tough. And from Sam’s point of view he probably feels the same because he doesn’t feel it was his time to go. Things have to be resolved before he can finally say goodbye.

Q: How is it working with Andy Moss, who plays Sam?

A: I love Andy so much. He’s like my teddy bear. I’m like ‘Andy, you’re the actor, you’re the professional one, how would you do it?’ We’re doing our duets, there are a few times when it’s us and Sam Ferriday (Carl), then there’s the whole ensemble… We’re becoming like a family. The first week of rehearsals was the toughest for me because most of the cast have done this before. They’ve trained or they’ve acted before full-time. They’ve had that experience I’ve never had before. I’ve been on stage and I’ve been a singer, but I’ve been a pop singer, not a musical theatre singer. But they have taken me under their wing.

Q: Is it strange being on the road without your Girls Aloud bandmates?

A: It is strange, I’m not gonna lie, but Jacqui who plays Oda Mae has really taken me under her wing. She’s had 30 years’ experience doing this so if there’s anyone who’s going to help me with ‘How would you do that? How would you react? How do internalise? How do you externalise?’ it’s Jacqui. I’m learning all these new different terms like ‘downstage centre’ and ‘midstage centre’.

I’m like ‘What? We didn’t have that in the band!’ It was just ‘Get here, get there, here’s your dance partner, get the audience going, belt one out’. I’m hoping this is going to add another string to my bow and it’s going to show people I’m capable of more than just being on stage going ‘Come on everybody!’ It’s a massive learning curve for me. It’s almost like I’ve been sent to summer stage camp. One thing I always wanted to do as a child was go to full-time drama college but my parents couldn’t afford it. So this has been like boot camp and I’m loving it.

•Ghost the Musical is at Sunderland Empire from September 26 to October 1. Tickets available from the Box Office, the ticket centre 0844 871 3022 or