Lisa Maxwell, of The Bill and Loose Women, is starring as Judy Garland in the play based on her life, End of the Rainbow.

Last month I was invited to their rehearsals in St Barnabas Church in Mile End to see how things were coming along.

There is a resonant charm to watching the actors discuss lines and suggest movements, or to watching Lisa float around singing as if home alone.

The play, written by Peter Quilter, has since been performed all over the world and the various productions have received three Tony Award nominations and four Olivier Award nominations, including Best New Play.

Director Daniel Buckroyd admits: “It has quite big shoes to fill but it’s exciting that none of us saw it, we went back to the script and discovered it.

“It is an extraordinary story. Now because of the media there is a low level of expectation for celebrities but Judy was a proper celebrity and people watched her rise and fall.”

Later, when talking to Lisa, it is clear to see that the cast and crew are very keen to do both the musical and Judy herself justice.

She says: “It’s quite a role to take on. It’s the sort of role that uses everything I’ve ever learnt really, singing, dancing – well, a bit of choreography – drama, comedy. It’s all in there.

“On the one hand it’s terrifying, but on the other hand it’s exactly what I was looking for; that’s why I left Loose Women. I’m an actor, that’s what I do and I’ve got to do something that’s going to frighten me. This came along and it was exactly what I was looking for.

“I want to do her justice because I’m a fan of hers and I want the fans who’re coming to be reminded of her. I’m not doing an impression but I want the people who love her to get that out of the play.”

“She was quite simply wonderful, an extraordinary and unique talent who didn’t stand a chance from day one.”

Producer Paul Taylor-Mills adds: “In the first reading it felt very gritty. It is like a two-sided coin because people will laugh and then become serious.”

Lisa stars alongside Sam Attwater, who plays Judy’s new, young fiancé, Mickey. Sam has appeared in Hollyoaks and Eastenders, as well as various theatre productions, and won ITV’s Dancing on Ice in 2011.

Gary Wilmot plays the character of Anthony, Judy’s beloved pianist. Gary’s musical theatre career began in 1989 when he played Bill Snibson in the hit production of Me and My Girl at the Adelphi Theatre. He has since featured in many productions and presented TV shows So You Want To Be On Top and Show Stoppers.

Aylesbury Waterside Theatre, Exchange Street, Aylesbury, Thursday, March 3, 2.30 pm and 7.30 pm, Friday, March 4, 7.30pm, and Saturday, March 5, 2.30pm and 7.30pm. Details: 0844 871 7607,

Theatre Royal Windsor, 32 Thames Street, Windsor, Tuesday, March 22 and Wednesday, March 23, 8pm. Thursday, March 24, 2.30pm and 8pm. Friday, March 25, 8pm and Saturday, March 26, 4.45m and 8pm. Details: 01753 853 888,

Wycombe Swan, St Mary Street, High Wycombe, Tuesday, June 14 and Wednesday, June 15, 7.30pm. Thursday, June 16, 2.30pm and 7.30pm. Friday, June 17, 7.30pm and Saturday, June 18, 2.30pm and 7.30pm. Details: 01494 512 000,