Accrington actress Mina Anwar to star in The Thunder Girls

PUBLISHED: 00:00 29 July 2019

Mina's new play is about four empowering, authentic, funny and truthful females over 50

Mina's new play is about four empowering, authentic, funny and truthful females over 50

not Archant

A girl band reunion could be a triumph or a tragedy and it is being played out on stage with Lancashire actress Mina Anwar in one of the lead roles.

<main image> Mina grew up in the Lancashire town of Accrington
Mina grew up in the Lancashire town of Accrington

It's not quite the Spice Girls reunion tour, but with a little stretch of the imagination you can see some similarities. The Thunder Girls are a 1980s girl group reuniting 30 years after betrayal, greed, envy and some enormous egos destroyed them.

The difference is, of course, that The Thunder Girls are figments of writer Melanie Blake's imagination and their potentially explosive get-together will be acted out on the stage of the Lowry in Salford later this year.

The lead roles are taken by Accrington actress Mina Anwar with her fellow band members played by soap stars Beverley Callard and Carol Harrison along with Blackpool's Colleen Nolan, who knows a thing or two about girl bands.

It charts what goes on during what's described as 'the night from hell' when the lead singer played by Carol, broke after being conned out of her fortune by a toy boy lover, tries to reunite the band she destroyed.

Mina, pictured with Rowan Atkinson and the cast, found TV fame in the comedy Thin Blue LineMina, pictured with Rowan Atkinson and the cast, found TV fame in the comedy Thin Blue Line

Step forward Mina who takes on the role of Carly, the youngest member of group but also the most loyal and level-headed. Her challenge is to be the peace-maker.

Mina, who still has a home in Saddleworth, didn't take much persuading to join the cast. 'All the band members are in their 50s and this is a very under-represented age group for women in the theatre,' she said.

'It's great to be suddenly be asked to play my age. And it's a fabulous show, a brilliant four handed play with music. I think people will love it.'

Mina grew up in the village of Church on the outskirts of Accrington after her father came across from India in the 60s.

They quickly settled into small town life in Lancashire.

It was school that shaped her. 'I had a great education at Ernest Street Baptist Infant School in Church from an extraordinary headteacher who got us listening to classical music.'

That teacher and others she encountered at Hyndburn Park Juniors and at Moorhead High - now Accrington Academy - made a profound impact on her and a sister who has been a teacher at Moorhead for 25 years. Mina makes return visits to get involved in arts projects.

'I was very academic at school but I had been singing in a choir and music became the biggest thing for me. It still is - everything from Ella Fitzgerald to Whitney Houston, Kate Bush, rock and jazz.'

She went to drama school and received classical training as amezzo-soprano. 'There wasn't any opposition from my parents - they never stood in my way. They knew the power of learning and I share that belief. I got nine O levels, A levels and a BSc in psychology that I took in my 40s. I've never stopped learning.'

Mina became a familiar figure on our screens playing Maggie Habib in the BBC comedy, The Thin Blue Line. Since then she's been much in demand, appearing in The Bill, Shameless, Coronation Street, Dr Who and Happy Valley.

Perhaps her most memorable stage performance was in the award-winning West End musical, Everybody's Talking About Jamie.

Mina believes The Thunder Girls will get a similar response from audiences. Her part, as the band's peace-maker, could have been written for her - in fact, in a way it was. 'I met the writer, Mel, at a party. She said: "Oh wow, Mina! I can't believe you're here - I'm just about to send you a play that I wrote with you in mind!"

'I couldn't put it down. What a story - it's full of love, loss and betrayal, power games and passion, friendship and heartbreak. It was funny, feisty, moving and intriguing. I'm so excited to be part of this incredible project.

'It's a game changer. It's written by a woman, about four empowering, authentic, funny and truthful female characters, all over 50, that dare to embrace their middle age and yet never fall victim to clichés. I believe that anyone, men and women alike, will fall in love with these women as I have done. It's just a cracking good story.' u

The Thunder Girls will have its premiere preview run at The Lowry from September 24-28.

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