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She's got the funk
2:37pm Tuesday 29th March 2005 in News
Amanda Noar is a mother of three and an actress and producer. Which makes her the perfect choice to play the part of a busy working mum. ALEX KASRIEL talks to her about juggling work and family
Nether Street, North Finchley
April 7 to 9
Amanda Noar is a real woman's woman. Refreshingly open and in her element when sharing her thoughts on the benefits of being older, or the various pitfalls of relationships, she is the sort of woman who makes you feel as if you have known her for ages, even if you have just met her.
Her self-knowledge brings her the kind of contentment that makes you feel at ease while speaking to her. There is no insecurity or defensiveness which can sometimes produce the most awkward of interviewees.
The Manchester-born actress used to be married to Neil Morrissey, after they met on the set of Boon. With her dulcet northern tones still intact, proudly announcing her heritage, she explains how they were too young to get married.
"We were married for about two years. We'd known each other beforehand. We're still quite good friends because of Sam their son. Neil is very supportive and we're on very good terms. It's nice.
"We got married too young. And he was in the same industry. If you're acting, you usually have to go away. It's very difficult to have a long-distance relationship."
Sam is now 15 and living in North Finchley, with his siblings Joel, six, and Lisa, three, from her marriage to a man she met on a blind date.
"He's lovely," she says of Emir, a Turkish Jew, who works as a City trader. "He's not in the business thank God. My husband, he's very normal. He helps me be normal."
Although she did not write it, Noar feels like the part she is playing in a new play, FunkFace!, was written especially for her.
Based on the true story of Regina Woolfstein, it is about Sharon, a Jewish mum from Manchester. When her husband leaves her, she finds herself alone and struggling to raise the kids and to raise money. She uses her training in beauty therapy and make-up to get a job in a department store. There she meets Jenny, Noar's character, who inspires her to get empowered and set up her own fashion label FunkFace!, also the title of the play.
"They're sick of the fact that they have to be polite to all these weird and wonderful customers who ask for things like fragrance-free perfume (that really did happen). They have just got to stand there smiling when sometimes, if you've had a really bad day, you just want to say what you really think.
"I have got three kids. It's hard if you've had no sleep and you're knackered. You have still got to carry on with what you're doing. It's hard work. You might not be as courteous as you should be if you've got some weirdo coming up to you. You might come out with something you shouldn't have."
When the play premiered in Manchester's Comedy Store last December, it was a massive hit. With cameo performances from celebrities, including GMTV stylist Armand Beasley and TV presenter Jenny Powell, it pulled in all the right punters. It struck a chord with single mums and its celebrity audience didn't do any harm either.
"They loved it, they absolutely lapped it up, especially the women. There are some lines in it which really hit a chord. It's really down on men." says Noar. "I'm relatively well known in Manchester so all the cast of Corrie Coronation Street came. And the actress playing the footballer's wife character is a real footballer's wife married to Sheffield United's Ashley Ward."
And, of course, Noar is no showbiz lightweight. The Arts Educational School-trained actress has appeared in popular TV shows including Coronation Street, Brookside and Casualty. She counts a dinner with Leonard Bernstein, when she was playing Anita in West Side Story at Her Majesty's Theatre, as a career highlight. Her description of him was that he was a bit mad'.
Noar, 40, who runs the semi-professional Impact Theatre Company, was told about the play by a friend of a friend of the writer, Binda Singh, from Swansea.
"When I was up in Manchester visiting my mum, I met Binda and read the script. I loved it. I thought it was really, really funny and brilliant. I could tell that every single woman anywhere would see it and think, Oh my God, that is exactly what I thought.' "Binda is an Indian man. You would have thought he is not in touch but he's a really good writer. He obviously understands women."
Now Noar is directing and acting in a version at artsdepot. This time round, the celebrity cameo part is being filled by Vicky Beverly, daughter of Beverly Sister, Joy.
She says it is tricky to direct herself so she tends to neglect her character, but asks the cast members to look at her to see if there is anything she missed.
"I love life at the moment," the actress gushes. "It's really good. I'm very happy, I'm working as an actress which is my first love. I'm directing and producing with this and my company, Impact."
But it must be a lot of work for a mum of three, which, of course, is a neat imitation of art.
"That is exactly what the play is about," she laughs. "I'll probably have a nervous breakdown by the end of the year, but I love doing everything and so long as I keep working I'm happy."
And with artsdepot up the road she at least does not have to commute.
"Before we had to schlep to the Millfield. Artsdepot is in walking distance from my house. It's bliss."
The BBC is now interested in making Funkface into a TV series set in Barnet, and Denise Welch ex-Coronation Street, rumoured to be attending on Saturday night, is interested in the part.
FunkFace! is at artsdepot, Nether Street, North Finchley, on April 7 (8pm), April 8 (7.30pm) and April 9 (8pm). Tickets are £15. Proceeds go to Women Fighting Breast Cancer. To book, call the box office on 020 8369 5454.
Please note that this show is for adults only.