Lancashire actress stars in Disney’s Into the Woods

Stage: Joanna Riding, starring in My Fair Lady
Stage: Joanna Riding, starring in My Fair Lady
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A Longridge born actress has shared her delight that a movie she has a part in is showing in her home town cinema.

Joanna Riding believes the first movie she ever saw was Walt Disney’s Bambi, at the Palace in Longridge.

Now 47, Joanna has a brief, 30-second appearance in Disney’s new musical fantasy Into the Woods, which is due to screen at the Palace from Friday.

The movie, adapted from Stephen Sondheim’s award-winning Broadway musical of the same name and directed by Rob Marshall, features Johnny Depp and Meryl Streep.

Joanna said: “It is barely 30 seconds, but it is a beautiful moment. I get to sing in a Disney movie with all these marvellous people – Hollywood names – and it was a truly wonderful experience. I am very, very proud.”

She says: “It is very nice to be ‘coming’ to the Longridge cinema where I saw my first movie, probably Bambi. We didn’t go anywhere else.

“I could never have dreamed that one day people would be sitting there seeing me. It is a lovely thought that I will be there.”

This is Joanna’s first venture into the world of film and she says cinema-goers see her very briefly as Cinderella sits wishing at her mother’s grave. Joanna metamorphosizes from a tree above and everyone hears her voice as she speaks to Cinderella.

Joanna said: “Cinderella looks up to say thank you and that is my moment. People who know me will recognise me.”

When Joanna auditioned for the part, she says the piece had already been cut back to two speaking lines, but she still went along regardless.

“It was a very new experience for me because I have never done a movie before, but it was beyond expectation to get so much time with them,” said Joanna.

She added that while she already admired Meryl Streep, she just went “up and up” in her estimation, describing her as “a very warm and kind, normal, person”.

Joanna, who has spent her career mainly in theatre, lots of which has been in the West End, with some television along the way, took her own children, aged five and eight, along to see the film and says they both enjoyed it.

Joanna also recently starred in The Pajama Game at the Shaftesbury Theatre, finishing last September, and performed as the countess in a one-off concert A Little Night Music.