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EastEnders star Rita Simmons, aka Roxy Mitchell, to star in Snow White at Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury

By Alex Claridge

Panto star Rita Simons reckons doing the her first panto in Canterbury “couldn’t be more perfect”.

The 38-year-old is playing the Wicked Queen in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at the Marlowe Theatre – a huge departure from her role as Roxie Mitchell in EastEnders.

“Christmas in Canterbury is going to be beautiful and if there was a panto that I really wanted to do, then it would be Snow White,” Rita told the Gazette on Sunday.

EastEnders star Rita Simmons as the Wicked Queen in Snow White
EastEnders star Rita Simmons as the Wicked Queen in Snow White

“I have always loved the story of Snow White – and doing it in Canterbury couldn’t be more perfect.”

Rita is a former member of the band Girls@Play and enjoys “the rowdiness of playing in arenas”.

She admits she is daunted by the prospect of returning to the stage, but says she is looking forward to throwing herself into the singing element of the show.

“I don’t know if I’m looking forward to this yet and I’m very used to my role on EastEnders, which I’ve been doing for the last eight years and not really much else.

The dwarves
The dwarves

“I’m sure I’m going to love it, but I’m going to have to find my feet.

“I love the costume I’m wearing. I love its bigness and its ridiculousness, but it is chafing my armpits.

“I’m also really going to enjoy playing the baddie. I don’t think I could play the goodie.”

Snow White runs for six weeks starting on Friday, November 27.

Jemma Carlisle as Snow White
Jemma Carlisle as Snow White

It follows the hugely popular Aladdin, starring EastEnders actor Scott Maslen, last year.

And Ben Roddy, who is doing his seventh panto in Canterbury, knows that the pressure is on to outdo last year’s show.

Ben Roddy as Nurse Nellie in Snow White which is coming to Canterbury's Marlowe Theatre
Ben Roddy as Nurse Nellie in Snow White which is coming to Canterbury's Marlowe Theatre

He said: “We are all delighted to be coming back to the Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury. It’s the best panto in the best regional theatre in the country.

“Snow White is a classic Disney story. It’s a tale of good against evil.

“There is pressure to put on an even better show.

“But we take it very seriously and I can tell you it’s going to be big and it’s going to be spectacular.”

Local boy Lloyd Hollett from Margate will play Herman the Henchman, the Wicked Queen’s sidekick.

Lloyd Hollett as Herman the Henchman
Lloyd Hollett as Herman the Henchman

Lloyd, who doing his fifth panto at the Marlowe, said: “The show is a comedy which works well both for children and adults and this show is all about making people laugh and feel happy.

“We always seem to manage to top what we did the previous and everyone will love Snow White.”

Mister Maker Phil Gallagher as Muddles in Snow White at the Marlowe Theatre
Mister Maker Phil Gallagher as Muddles in Snow White at the Marlowe Theatre

The Marlowe Pantomime is once again being put on by Evolution Productions.

Pantomime producer Paul Hendy believes Rita Simons is a strong addition to the established team: “People will instantly recognise her as Roxie but what they won’t realise is that she has a strong song and dance background and is extremely talented.

“She’s also great fun and even though she is playing the Wicked Queen, this will definitely come across.

“It’s early days, but I can promise the biggest and best pantomime ever.”

For more information, click here or call 01227 787787.

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