Lee Brennan will be playing Prince Charming in Cinderella for this year’s pantomime at Leas Cliff Hall in Folkestone, which opens on 10th December and will run until 31st December. On stage, Lee has performed in pantomimes previously over the years and, in 2016, he made his musical debut as Willard in the UK Tour of Footloose the Musical. Starting his career in music with boyband 911 in 1995, Lee reunited with his fellow band members recently for The Boys Are Back Tour performing around the country with Five, A1 and Damage. Alongside his entertainment career, Lee is a personal trainer and nutrition coach and will be launching his online coaching business Mr Bodyshaper in 2022. Answering our questions, Lee talks about his upcoming role of Prince Charming in Cinderella, playing Willard in Footloose the Musical and some of his highlights with 911.
In Leas Cliff Hall’s pantomime Cinderella this year, you will be playing Prince Charming, what are you looking forward to for playing the character in Folkestone?
It’s my first time appearing in a Cinderella panto so that’s really exciting and to be the Prince is always a really good fun character to play. We have a really great cast and we want to create a show that will send everyone home with a big smile on their faces.
What do you feel you’ll bring to the role and what can audiences expect from your performance?
I’ll be bringing energy, cheekiness and a bit of my posh royal accent to the role and there will be plenty of singing and dancing also. I can’t wait!
Why would you encourage booking tickets to see Cinderella at Leas Cliff Hall and why would you recommend the show to families?
It’s been a tough 18+ months for many people and having panto back is the perfect way to kick off the Christmas holidays for all ages and to enjoy being back in theatres again. It’s fun, lots of jokes, sing-a-longs, dancing, amazing costumes, fun characters, and a great cast telling the amazing Cinderella story. All of that is definitely the perfect reason to book tickets and escape into Pantoland for a few hours.
How do you find the experience interacting with a pantomime audience?
Audience interaction is the biggest part of the panto experience and I love being able to encourage everyone to join in, whether that’s to clap, cheer, sing, wave their hands, boo, shout back ‘oh no it’s not’ etc… Without interaction, panto wouldn’t be panto. People come along because they love that personal interaction and it’s also a great starting place for young children who’ve maybe never been to a theatre before, it can make them fall in love with shows and also maybe inspire them to want to be a performer.
What is it like reading a script for the first time and meeting the rest of the cast?
It’s always exciting to see what your lines are and which are your scenes and also seeing the songs within the script. It also means that panto and Christmas is nearly here! I love meeting the cast and getting to meet people I’ve never met before and to see the different personalities and ultimately everyone becoming a team and bringing the script to life.
Having performed in pantomimes previously, is there anything you enjoy most about being part of them?
I really enjoy the whole process, from doing the first promo shoot, to meeting a new group of people and then starting rehearsals which is always just really good fun. I love watching the show slowly come together and getting to know the cast more and more and everyone feeling proud of making the show come to life on the first night and seeing everyone watching have fun!
In 2016, you played Willard on the Footloose the Musical tour, what was this like?
Playing Willard in Footloose for 80 shows around the UK was the best thing I’ve done personally. It had always been a dream to perform in a musical and I really felt at home playing Willard, a simple country bumpkin with a warm heart. It’s a different kind of performance than being in 911 or performing in a panto and I absolutely loved every minute of it. I would love to perform in a musical again one day.
What are some of your highlights from your time as part of 911?
Having a number one record was amazing as it’s something we said together that we would work hard to achieve and also we said we wanted to perform at Wembley Arena, which we did with our own tour. There were so many wow moments with 911, it was always exciting as each day brought a new adventure somewhere in the world. Touring was the best thing as we could put on a full production for fans and our live shows were what 911 was all about. We experienced some incredible things and I’m grateful for that.
How has it been reuniting with the group over the years and what are some of the recent tours and shows you’ve been involved with?
Getting together and doing gigs and nostalgia tours is brilliant. We all have our busy individual family lives now but when we meet for gigs it’s just really good fun and so good to perform in front of crowds who love the 90s. We recently finished The Boys Are Back Tour which was four boybands (911, Five, A1 and Damage) performing 30 theatre dates around the country. We all had an amazing time and the fans were so loud and hopefully we can all do it again some day.
Where does your love of performing come from and what do you enjoy doing away from music and acting?
I think watching musical movies when I was younger was where it started, although I didn’t realise it at the time. I used to know the whole script to The Wizard Of Oz and danced around the house and also loved to perform magic tricks to anyone who would watch me. I never had any training or performing growing up as I didn’t go to any theatre schools. When I first saw the likes of Wet Wet Wet, Bros and Take That, they all inspired me to want to be in a boyband, to sing and dance. My dad sang professionally for many years since leaving school also so I would see him on stage and think about me being there too. I’m quite introverted really but being a performer gave me an outlet to express myself differently.
Away from music and acting, I enjoy a quiet life, simple things, walks, meeting friends for a coffee, time with family, trips to London to watch theatre with my mam, and looking at what goals I can focus on next. I’m a certified personal trainer and nutrition coach now also and launching my online coaching business in spring 2022 called Mr Bodyshaper (Instagram @mrbodyshaper). I’ll be coaching beginners with nutrition, mindset and fitness so I’m looking forward to that. I will also be performing some solo gigs in 2022 for the first time. I’m putting together my own boyband celebration show which is something I’ve always wanted to do, singing some of my favourite boyband songs by Take That, Westlife, Five, Blue, East 17 and 911, of course!
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