Get ready to boo, hiss, clap and cheer - but make sure you’re home before the stroke of midnight or Brenda Edwards might just turn you into a pumpkin.
The singer and Loose Women star returns to the world of panto this Christmas as the Fairy Godmother in Cinderella at Bromley’s Churchill Theatre.
“What I love about playing the Fairy Godmother is when you look out into the audience and see all the fairy wands waving,” says Brenda. “And I love my wings! They’re lovely. Who doesn’t love to play dress up? It’s a chance to be a big kid, which I love.”
Brenda is no stranger to the theatre, having appeared in huge musicals such as Chicago and We Will Rock You, but this is her first time doing panto at the Churchill.
However, she says there’s always something special about “bringing the community together” when panto season rolls around.
“I think a lot of people look forward to this because theatre tickets can be a bit expensive and not everybody can afford it,” says the 54-year-old. “But the panto is so inclusive, and if you’ve got a small child that’s never been before, everyone's excited.”
“I think it’s tradition, that’s why everyone keeps coming back,” adds Steven Dalziel, who plays the role of lovable sidekick Buttons. “That’s the magic of it. You’ll take your kids, they’ll take their kids, and it’ll just keep going and I think that’s such an amazing thing. I don’t think it’ll ever stop and for me, growing up, we went every year so to now be doing it is so cool.”
Steven, who has recently been on tour with children’s show Blippi: The Wonderful World, is as excited as the audience that Brenda will be joining the Bromley panto this year.
“Brenda’s already been singing today and I love her voice,” laughs the Scottish actor. “I actually went up to her and said ‘Brenda, I voted for you, I think I was about six years old and I voted for you!’ It’s such a great cast.”
The cast are chatting during the press launch - the first time most of them have met - and Brenda, who rose to fame on the X Factor in 2005, agrees that there’s already great chemistry between them all.
“I’m really looking forward to having a good bond with the cast because I think that’s special and important when everybody’s joined together,” she says. “It’s a community on stage performing to the community out there.”
“I’m a solo entertainer for the rest of the year, so to get together and work with a cast of amazing people is just wonderful,” adds John Kimmons, who will be playing Baron Hardup.
“It’s just the camaraderie of being in a cast. It means other people are depending on you so it ramps up the pressure a bit but it means you all pull together as well, which is a lot of fun. It’s been a long time since I’ve done anything like this.”
Ventriloquist and magician John has been working as a speciality act for 40 years and has performed countless children’s entertainment shows, but this year will mark his panto debut.
“It’s a little bit nerve-wracking,” John admits. “I’ve always wanted to be in a pantomime, but it’s just never been my world. The opportunity presented itself and I’m very excited.”
However, this isn’t the first time that Brenda, who is best known for being a regular Loose Women panellist alongside Ruth Langsford and Janet Street-Porter, has slipped into a pair of fairy godmother wings.
“When I did panto in Wimbledon last year, my wings just got bigger and bigger!” she laughs. “But no two fairies are the same. I don’t know what my fairy for Cinderella is going to bring but she’s going to grant lots of wishes and I might just end up stealing her diamante slippers because I love a bit of bling!”
So, with children’s entertainers and fellow theatre pros in the cast, will Brenda be showing off her trademark vocals during her star turn?
“Oh, there’s always a big number!” says the former reality show singer. “There’s always that big 11 o’clock number - that will be happening at 1 o’clock in the afternoon! So I’m looking forward to singing with the rest of the cast.”
Cinderella is the rags-to-riches fairytale that almost everyone knows and loves, but there’s something about seeing it performed at the panto that keeps us coming back for more.
So, what’s the secret ingredient that the Churchill Theatre cast has up their sleeves to make audiences fall in love with the story all over again?
“Cinderella is one of the oldest fairytales that there is and it’s just so lovely that the moral of the story is that no matter how bad things are, or how bad things can get, there’s always light at the end of the tunnel,” says Brenda. “Always dream, believe in your dream and believe in yourself and you never know, your wishes could come true.
“I just think it’s such a great story - she’s down on her luck after losing her father and then she meets her Prince Charming, and who doesn’t want to meet their Prince or Princess Charming? I’m still waiting!”
Cinderella will be at the Churchill Theatre from Saturday, December 2 to New Year’s Eve and can be booked online here.
You can also book tickets by calling 03433 100020.