WANDS READY FOR FAIRY GODMOTHER!
Melanie Walters is looking forward to her “sixth or seventh” pantomime and especially likes the idea of being Fairy Godmother in Cinderella at the Grand Theatre.
“Pantomime is such an important introduction to theatre for children,” she says. “It takes them away from hand held screens, laptops, i-phones and televisions and gets them to love a live show and learn how to react and interact with it.”
She s the first to admit that as a youngster she didn’t have any burning ambition to be an actress – and there was certainly no family tradition even if she is Welsh!
“It was one those things, being Welsh there was always an eisteddfod to go to then one year my class all had talk about a different subject,” she says. “Mine was opera and apparently my classmates found it really funny – and I loved the reaction. That was it. I was hooked.”
This is Melanie’s first professional job in Blackpool but she has already fallen in love with the Grand.
“What a beautiful place to make my debut in the town!”
As for her role, she admits: “Being a Fairy Godmother isn’t the greatest challenge to an actor but she still has to be a real character and not just someone who walks on and waves a wand in the air.
“Then again I don’t want to sound too serious about what is a fun role in a fun show.”
Her television credits include Doc Martin, Hollyoaks, Dirty Work, Coronation Street and Under Milk Wood (“it helped that I’m Welsh”) but it’s as Stacey’s mum Gwen in the hugely successful comedy series Gavin And Stacey that she is best known for.
“There are worse things to be remembered for,” she says. “It was a good show to be involved with and it has stood the test of time. It was a classic piece of writing.
“It does still take me by surprise though when people recognise me from it – and it’s even more interesting when people apologise for not seeing it – as though I’m going to hold it against them or take it personally.”
Together with a log cv of tv and stage credits Melanie has also clocked up a fair number of films – including her favourite ever role in High Tide from two years ago. Filmed on the Gower Peninsula – a short ride from her home the Mumbles district of Swansea – she plays Bethan, a mother who has just one day to mend her broken relationship with her teenage son.
No such problems in her own life where her 18-year-old son still lives at home in Swansea – and isn’t considering a life on the stage.
“I love living in Mumbles and so much can be done on social media and self-taping these days that it’s no longer anything like as important to be based in London to pitch for work. And it’s a lot cheaper.”
She will be getting home for Christmas though.
“I always get home on Christmas Eve – though it might be a bit late and a bit briefer than I’d like but it’s important to be with the real family.
“I know it’s part of an actor’s training that whatever production they are involved in they make a new ‘family’ with the cast – especially in pantomime – but I’ll still be heading for the hills (or valleys) as fast as I can on Christmas Eve!”
Cinderella is presented by Martin Dodd for UK Productions whom have been presenting the Christmas pantomime at Blackpool’s Grand Theatre since 2003. Other productions presented at The Grand by UK Productions include; Legally Blonde the Musical, Beauty and the Beast, The Kite Runner, 42nd Street, South Pacific, Carousel, Fiddler on the Roof, Oklahoma!, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and Anything Goes.
Cinderella plays at Blackpool Grand Theatre from Tuesday 5 December 2017 to Sunday 7 January 2018 starring celebrated stage and TV star Melanie Walters (Gavin & Stacey) as Fairy Godmother; Union J’s JJ Hamblett (The X Factor) as the dashing Prince Charming; BBC Radio Lancashire presenter and madcap comic Steve Royle as Buttons; popular children’s presenter Olivia Birchenough (Milkshake!) as Cinderella and hilarious double act Jamie Morris & Tarot Joseph as the Ugly Sisters.
Book your seats today, otherwise not even your Fairy Godmother will be able to magic you a ticket to see Blackpool’s must-see Christmas show… Tidy.
Tickets are available by calling the box office on 01253 290190 or click here.
Interview by: Robin Duke