NEW mum Gemma McDonald will take to the Joseph Rowntree Theatre stage in York tomorrow only six weeks after giving birth to baby Edward.

Gemma, the cheeky, squeaky comic turn in each winter's Rowntree Players pantomime, will be appearing in Di And Viv And Rose, Amelia Bullmore's emotional tale of three women’s lives and enduring bonds from 1983 to 2010.

"We started rehearsing while I was pregnant, and we resumed now I'm on maternity leave, and the girls have been really good with me," says Gemma, who will play Rose alongside Leni Ella's Di and Lisa Green's Viv in a story of up and downs, humour, pathos and sadness.

At 18, Di, Viv and Rose join forces at university, sharing a flat after a first year of hall-of-residence initiation. Life is fun; living is intense; together they feel unassailable, but then their varied journeys take their toll, forcing them apart and stretching their relationships with each other to near-breaking point.

York Press:

Rowntree Players' poster for Di And Viv And Rose

"Rose is an art history student, who's free spirited," says Gemma. "She likes to have a lot of fun; she likes boys!

"Di is a business student; she's lesbian and is able to be herself at university, when she can't do that at home. A significant event will happen to her in the play.

"Viv is a sociology student who's really into fashion and fashion writing, but is very strait-laced, dressing like it's the war. She comes across, not so much as dull, but as the most serious character ."

The director, making her Rowntree Players debut, is retired Malton drama teacher Sue Hawes. "She trained me 12 years ago at Norton College," recalls Gemma.

She and husband Mark, a fellow York actor, held a ceremony at the Jo Ro theatre after their registry office wedding. "Now Edward has already made his first visit to the theatre!" she says.

Tickets for tomorrow to Saturday's 7.30pm performances are on sale on 01904 501935 or at