I met Davina Perera after a performance of Privates on Parade at the Noel Coward Theatre in February 2013. It was the first production of Michael Grandage‘s Season of Five Plays. She played Sylvia Morgan in sad circumstances. Her friend Sophiya Hague was originally performing the role a month earlier. I had drawn a sketch of Sophiya and was waiting at the stage door to get her to sign it. She didn’t appear, which can often happen, so I thought, “oh well, another night.” The next day I read in the newspaper that she and passed away. Sophiya probably best remembered to TV views as Poppy Morales in Coronation Street was diagnosed with cancer around Christmas and died on 17 January 2013 aged 41.
Davina and Sophiya had been in four shows together and shared a dressing room on each occasion. In a recent interview Davina commented, “I was honoured to be in her last show with her and carry it on for her in her name. I am sure wherever she is she is still dancing.”
Retiring to London from her Broadway debut in Around the World in Eighty Days, Davina was last seen in the National Theatre’s The Shed in Yellow Face – David Henry Hwang’s dramatic comedy about race, based on Jonathan Pryce’s role as an Asian in the original production of Miss Saigon.
Davina actually made her West End Debut poling Yvette in Miss Saigon in 2001, at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane. In Yellow Face there are 88 characters, she plays 21 of them.
This sketch is from the 2009 Tamasha and Oldham Coliseum production of Wuthering Heights at the Lyric Hammersmith, The Bronte classic has been adapted into 23 plays, 14 musical versions and 8 films. This one is a Bollywood musical set in Rajasthan in the 1870s. Davina signed it for me that night at the Noel Coward Stage door after a quiet word about Sophiya.