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Ria Jones

As a little girl Ria was destined to be a performer and has a vivid memory of screaming at the wicked witch  from the audience of a pantomime at Swansea Grand Theatre "give me my dummy" at the top of her voice. Ria's mother having trouble getting Ria to ditch her dummy had told her that the Wicked Witch had taken it. 


Ria Jones was born in Cwmdu, Swansea in South Wales. Her love of the theatre was developed through her mum and dad, who would take her and her brother Ceri (Dupree) to see the Annual pantomimes at the Grand Theatre in Swansea. Her mother studied at the Royal College of Music in London and her father Malcolm was an entertainer, she had great encouragement from them both.  She learnt to perform at the Phyllis Jones School of Tap in Fleet Street, Swansea and got her first opportunity to play the Grand as a ten year old when she was picked to be one of the Babes in “Cinderella” with Clive Dunn in 1977/78. Ria has many fond memories of John Chilvers who called her his “little miss dynamite”. She was proud to sing at his funeral. Her appearances at The Grand included “My Fair Lady” with Swansea Amateur Operatic Society and “The Wizard Of Oz” with The Abbey Players both in 1982. Since then she has appeared there in “A Night Of A Hundred Stars” in February of 1988, her one woman show in April of 1991 and The Pantomime “Aladdin” in 1985/86 and again in 1999/00. She was also very proud to appear with her brother Ceri


     

at The Grand Theatre in the show “Missleading Ladies in April” of 2001. At the age of 19 she became the youngest actress ever to play the role of Eva Peron in the musical "Evita". This was followed shortly after by her West End debut in the musical "Chess", in which she played both Svetlana and Florence. She then went on to play Grizabella in "Cats" at the New London theatre, a role she played for two years. Her next theatre role was as Fantine in "Les Miserables" at Manchester's Palace Theatre, followed by the national tour, and then on to the West End.Ria took the role of the narrator in “Joseph and His Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" opposite Phillip Schofield at the Appollo in Hammersmith, and on another national tour. Her other credits include "Romance Romance” at the Bridewell Theatre, playing both Josephine and Monica. Necrophorous in "Nine" at the Donmar Warehouse. Kim in the European premiere of the musical revue "Personals" at the New End Theatre, Hampstead. Ria created the role of Emma West, in "A Twist Of Fate" at the Jubilee Theatre, Raffles, Singapore. Petra in Stephen Sondheims "A Little Night Music", at the Leicester Haymarket. Ida in "Honk" at the Victoria theatre, Singapore.The title role in the European premiere of "Victor Victoria" at the Bridewell Theatre. Liz Imbrie in "High Society" U.K.  Tour 2004/5, and the Shaftesbury theatre. Reno Sweeney in the 2006 national tour of "Anything Goes". Which she was nominated for a TMA award for best performance in a musical. In 2006 she was chosen by



Victoria Wood to play the role of Mrs Overall in "Acorn Antiques" UK tour 2006/7 directed by Victoria. Victoria who when she was University, visited Swansea and remembers seeing Ryan and Ronnie at The Grand in Pantomime in the 70’s, and praised Ryan as an amazing talent. At Christmas in 2007 Ria stepped out of her comfort zone and performed in her first straight play “Lucifer Saved” at the Finborough Fringe theatre London. Followed by her first play reading of “The State We’re In” at the Trafalgar Studios, London. In 2008 Ria starred alongside Marti Pellow in the touring production of "The Witches Of Eastwick"Her workshops include Norma Desmond in "Sunset Boulevard" at Sydmonton Festival in 1991, the year before the role was taken by Patti Lupone – also incidentally Patti Lupone is the great grand niece of Opera Diva Madam Adelina Patti, who opened the Grand in 1897.Stephen Sondheims Masterclass at St Catherine’s college Oxford, Mercedes in "Carmen Negra" at the Royalty Theatre, London. And "Zorro The Musical” at The Old Vic theatre, London. Concerts have taken Ria worldwide. She regularly is a guest soloist in Denmark, singing with all the major orchestras. As well as France, Singapore and South Africa. She has appeared as a soloist for the past three years in “The Best Of Broadway” with The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at The Royal Albert Hall. Sang by personal request at Buckingham Palace for The Duke Of Edinburgh Award Scheme. Has sung as a soloist with The Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and the BBC Welsh Symphony Orchestra. A guest soloist in "Children Will Listen", celebrating the work of Stephen Sondheim at The Theatre Royal Drury Lane. "A Night Under The Stars" with Bryn Tyrfel at his annual festival in North Wales. Mary Magdalene in "Jesus Christ Superstar" at the Barbican theatre, Eva Peron in "Evita" in concert, Highams park Chelmsford. Fantine in "Les Miserables" in concert at Cardiff Castle. And "Missleading Ladies" at St David's Hall Cardiff, which she co- devised with her brother Ceri Dupree

She has recorded her own TV show "One Night Only With Ria Jones" for BBC Wales and she has been a guest on three Royal Variety shows for the BBC, as well as appearing on numerous TV chat shows and radio shows. Including "Friday Night Is Music Night" for BBC Radio 4.


Her recordings to date are "Les Miserables" the Manchester cast recording. Soloist "A Tribute To Hal Prince". Kim in "Personals". Emma West in "A Twist Of Fate". Guest soloist on Pier Nielsen's album "My Way" and Jesper Lundgaard's Album "Symphony For My Love". Both recorded with The Sonderyllands Symphony Orchestra. Ria is fiercely patriotic, and proud of her Welsh roots and is an immense talent that Swansea and Wales should be very proud of, her personality is extremely likeable, and she has the voice of an Angel. During the early 80’s Anneka Rice presented a television show called ”Challenge Anneka”. One show was filmed in Swansea, where the challenge was to renovate The Patti Pavilion. Ria was invited to sing at the end of the show.  

Ria fondly remembers the Musical Director at The Grand, Meurig James or Miggsy as she remembers he was called, he could play anything at the drop of a hat. She has a truly infectious giggle; She is incredibly grounded and humble but this is also coupled with a dogged determination to succeed in every role she plays. Her role in “Acorn Antiques” has brought a new dimension to her work, and proves that she is more than just a musical theatre performer; in fact I wouldn’t be surprised if she took more dramatic straight roles in the future.

Ria in “The Witches Of Eastwick 2009


Ria in "The Wizard Of Oz" -

The Abbey Players Swansea Grand Theatre 1983


     Ria with her brother Ceri Dupree

Ria on The Mike Doyle Show singing You’re The Best