Next month, in The Albert Halls’ pantomime of Cinderella, Vicky Entwistle will be playing Fairy Superior when the show opens in Bolton on 1st December and running until 31st, with tickets currently on sale. Previous stage roles for Vicky have seen her play Elsie Collins on the UK Tour of Dirty Dusting, Miss Prism in The Importance of Being Earnest at Bolton Octagon, and she played Madame Thénardier in Les Misérables in the West End. Vicky is probably best-known to audiences for playing Janice Battersby in Coronation Street for 14 years alongside her on-screen husband Les, played by Bruce Jones. We recently spoke to Vicky, who told us about her upcoming role of Fairy Superior in Cinderella at Albert Halls in Bolton, being in the West End cast of Les Misérables as Madame Thénardier and her time as Janice Battersby in Coronation Street.
In December, you are set to perform in Albert Halls’ pantomime Cinderella, what will you bring to the role of Fairy Superior?
Fairy Superior is going to be a wonderful role to play as she is Queen of the fairies and tries to pass on her knowledge to a trainee fairy. She is, however, sometimes a little forgetful, funny, and quite goofy – so I think I can bring a lot of warmth and comedy to the role. It will be great to be able to interact with the audience and really help them through the journey of Cinderella.
Have you performed in a Cinderella pantomime before and what are you looking forward to for performing at Albert Halls in Bolton?
I’ve never performed in Cinderella before but it’s always been one that I’ve looked forward to. Previous panto roles include the Wicked Queen (Snow White) and Carabosse (Sleeping Beauty) – so I’m looking forward to hearing cheers rather than boos this year! I have performed at the Albert Halls before and it’s a beautiful space that is perfect for panto as every seat has a fantastic view of the stage and the intimacy will make everyone feel included.
What is it like interacting with a pantomime audience and seeing families getting involved?
It’s lovely – for a lot of children it is their first experience of live theatre and that starts as soon as they enter the building. The excitement of finding their seats, the anticipation of the show starting, singing along to the Christmas music and then seeing the entire fairytale unfold before them is magical. It’s amazing to see that, when performed correctly, audiences believe in our characters and share our journey and in this production there is plenty of audience participation for all ages – I can’t wait!
Is there anything you enjoy most about working on pantomimes?
The entire experience is a lot of fun and, although you might not know the other cast members when you start rehearsals, you very quickly become a family and it’s lovely to spend the Christmas season with them. In pantomime, every performance is slightly different according to the audience so that is exciting and you feel very festive when you see the children in the audience getting excited – everyone can join in with the Christmas cheer.
How is it reading a pantomime script for the first time and rehearsing for opening night?
Reading a script for the first time can be exciting, overwhelming and empowering as it introduces you to the world of the characters and their role within the show.
The rehearsal process allows you to try out different ways of playing the role and create a fully-rounded character and you see how other cast members interpret their character, which can then help you find nuances that you didn’t know when you first read the script. Learning the script can sometimes be frustrating and sometimes easy – it all depends on the way it has been written.
Why would you recommend booking tickets to see Cinderella at the Albert Halls in Bolton?
Cinderella is a wonderful pantomime but this production is going to entertain audiences of all ages. We are blessed with a really talented cast and crew, a hilarious script, dazzling costumes, spectacular scenery and even a magic flying coach. It will be the most spectacular pantomime ever staged at the Albert Halls and will be the perfect family Christmas outing – so everyone should book their tickets.
How was your time starring as Elsie Collins in the UK Tour of Dirty Dusting in 2021?
Dirty Dusting was really good fun; opposite to pantomime as it is essentially an adult comedy. I played one of the lead roles that never leaves the stage so with such a big amount of dialogue I had to stay focused at all times. We visited lots of theatres in the UK so it was interesting to visit venues that I hadn’t played before – but the audiences in Bolton were amazing and very friendly.
What was it like playing Miss Prism in The Importance of Being Earnest at Bolton Octagon?
I really enjoyed playing Miss Prism and the classic nature of the play means that the dialogue is almost like learning a different language. I enjoyed wearing the costumes too as wearing a corset enabled a different physicality to reflect the genre of the piece. I felt very ladylike and it was a nice contrast to some of the other roles I’ve played.
You played Madame Thénardier in Les Misérables in the West End, how was this?
Performing in Les Misérables was a huge challenge for me and when I was asked to join the West End cast I couldn’t believe it. The producers were amazing and organised singing lessons for me for six months and that really helped. Once I started performing the show, I really felt like I had achieved something.
Madame Thénardier is a formidable character and her appearance meant that I had to wear a dishevelled wig and stain my teeth a caramel and brown colour. After one performance, I totally forgot to remove the staining and got lots of funny looks on the tube – as everyone stared, I smiled even more, not realising that I’d still got a mouthful of rotten teeth.
On screen, you are best-known for playing Janice Battersby in Coronation Street for many years, what are some of your stand-out memories from working on the show?
There are too many to mention but it was great when the Battersbys first arrived because the scripts alluded to how rebellious the family was going to be. Corrie certainly knows how to create weddings, funerals, and christenings but they took ages to film, so sometimes the cast got a little bit naughty. Obviously it was very nice to work with Bruce Jones, my on-screen husband Les. I felt very proud to have been such a big part of Coronation Street for 14 years.
How did you get into acting and was it something you always wanted to do?
When I was at school, I took drama as an option, then went to college in Lytham St Annes, then attended the Drama Centre in London. My professional career started in plays – and when I was appearing in Like A Virgin with Jill Halfpenny, the casting department from Coronation Street came to watch it. They offered me one episode with 11 lines as a factory girl called Lee. That led to me being offered another three episodes, then another three, and then I was called to a meeting where I was offered the role of Janice Battersby. I felt very fortunate that one episode turned into 14 years!
What are some of your favourite films, TV and theatre shows to watch?
I love the musical Les Misérables, and I like gritty crime dramas and historical documentaries. Film-wise, The Godfather is a classic.
How do you like to spend your free time?
I like to do a lot of walking, going to the village pub to enjoy village life and flying to Spain to visit family. We’ve been in our current house for 17 years so after leaving Corrie it’s been lovely to enjoy the house, settle into village life and enjoy a much healthier work/life balance.
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