How To Make A Musical Out Of The Menopause

Emma Brophy speaks to Rula Lenska about Hot Flushes, Charity & Celebrity Big Brother

Related Links


Hot Flush, November 26th to December 1st at Richmond Theatre, The Green, Richmond Box Office 0870 060 6651

Sign up for our free weekly newsletter

Comment on this story on the

Born with the grand title of Countess Roza-Marie Leopoldyna Lubienska, Rula Lenska is a familiar face around town.

Best known for her television work and for her marriage to Dennis Waterman, the flame haired actress is currently starring in a production of Hot Flush alongside some of the biggest divas in the musical business.

Emma Brophy caught up with her to discuss Chiswick, the menopause and of course Celebrity Big Brother.

Although her heart is clearly still in the country, Rula Lenska has lived in the Grove Park area of Chiswick for the past eight years. “My daughter announced that she wanted to go to nursing college in London and my sister already lived in Chiswick so I came here. I like the fact that Chiswick is so green but you can still get into or out of town so quickly."

"The shopping area is incredible and where I live in Grove Park has a lovely villagey feel to it. People are incredibly warm and kind; my neighbours keep an eye on things whilst I am away and have a nodding acquaintance with everyone in street. If you have to live in London, then Chiswick can’t be beaten.”

Rula recently turned 60 and celebrated in style at Annie’s. “Lorraine [owner of Annie’s] is a great friend of mine and Annie’s is such an enchanting restaurant. We’re really spoilt for choice in Chiswick but this restaurant is a real gem.”

When someone has a head of hair as familiar as their face, they cannot fail to be recognized, but does Rula find us locals too posh to point? “When I first moved here I was hounded by press because of what I’ve been through. The people here behaved with decorum and tended to leave me alone. But being on Big Brother that changed. Now I have school kids recognising me on Turnham Green! I’ve always found people here very pleasant and very warm and have never found any problem with being recognised. After all you wouldn’t be where you are without the public.”

We all saw you in one of the most talked about scenes to come from the Celebrity Big Brother house (George Galloway cat scene), but how was the experience for you? “It’s difficult to put into words. It’s not that I had any huge expectations; I hadn’t even seen the programme. Had I seen it I probably wouldn’t have done it!”

“It wasn’t an altogether pleasant experience. I soon realised that winning was not on my agenda, I just wanted to leave with my dignity and integrity intact. The bullying and manipulation that came from Big Brother better made me realise that unless you have something to say and are prepared to follow it up it’s best to keep quiet.”

“It’s like the whole cat thing, it was presented as something that it wasn’t. Of course Big Brother is not interested in people being warm and nice to each other but I was shocked to see how that scene had been edited.”

“I lasted 16 days. It was a challenge like being in prison albeit a glossy prison and I learnt a lot about myself. I was accused of all sorts of things, being a failed actress, wanting to boost rating but what the public don’t know is that the celebrities are offered a huge amount of money for their chosen charities. That was the main reason I agreed to do the show because large sums of money are made via the public’s interaction using texts, phone calls and a percentage of this money is divided between the celebrities. When I came out I was able to write several large cheques which made it all worthwhile.”

Rula is currently appearing in Hot Flush. Described as “Sex and the City with HRT and funny songs” Rula plays Myra alongside Sheila Ferguson, Marti Webb and Rachel Izen. A successful barrister specialising in divorce, her character Myra had always considered herself a together sort of person. That is, until she began to develop the symptoms of you know what and her rat of a husband left her for a big blonde bimbo from his office.

The show sounds great, how did you get involved? “When I was asked would I like to do a show about the menopause I wasn’t too sure. And when I read the script I thought it was a bit trite. But I was taken with the challenge of doing a musical. I can sing a bit but I’m not in the same caliber as the other women in the show. But I’ve found a way of putting the numbers across which I think work and having really enjoyed learning something new.”

“Working with such a great line up of women of a similar age, it’s something we can all identify with. That the beauty of the piece, it doesn’t pretend to be anything it isn’t. It’s all light hearted trippery which will appeal to ages. It’s [menopause] not an illness, it’s something we all have to go through. The show is great because it gives us the ability to laugh at ourselves as well as with others.”

Are there any resemblances between your character and the real Rula? “Well it’s something I’ve been through although I did get away quite lightly! I supposed the increased aggression, loss of memory do show how the menopause can gently piss you off!”

Said to be more fun than joining a gym, cheaper than botox and might even leave you feeling 34½ again, Hot Flush will be on at Richmond Theatre from Monday 26th November until Saturday 1st December. “It’s a great show.” Says Rula with genuine enthusiasm “It’s not anti-men. It’s a light hearted romp that’s a celebration of womanhood.”

Emma Brophy

November 12, 2007