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GRAND PANTO PRINCESS

Bubbly children’s TV presenter Olivia Birchenough (Channel 5’s Milkshake!) has all the right ingredients to play the perfect Grand Panto Princess in this year’s fabulous, family pantomime Cinderella at Blackpool’s Grand Theatre from Tuesday 5 December to Sunday 7 January. Oh yes she has!

The award-winning stage and television star expertly mixes her passion for pantomime and a sparkling personality with a dusting of Milkshake! magic that’s guaranteed to light up lots of little faces visiting the glorious Grand this festive season. “Pantomime is very often many young people’s first experience of live theatre,” says the presenter of the popular pre-school TV show. “And I always feel it’s so important to try and connect with the children in the audience. Seeing someone they recognise up there on stage from TV can help to make them feel much more comfortable in this new environment. Hopefully they will then relax and enjoy themselves and maybe come back for more and experience other types of live shows. I am in a lot of their living rooms every morning after all, so hopefully I am a familiar face and that will help to draw them into the wonderful world of theatre!”

Olivia was snapped up straight from drama school to star in Channel 5’s top daily live TV show and said of her career choice: “Next to my picture in my school year book it says ‘most likely to be a children’s TV presenter’ so it was destined to be!” she laughs. “I was so very lucky because I have always been interested in children’s TV so I wrote to Channel 5 and auditioned for the Milkshake! live theatre show six weeks before I graduated Rose Bruford College and I got the job presenting the morning TV show straight after that. That was five years ago and I have never looked back and I still love doing it.”

 

As well as presenting live TV every day Olivia has fronted two nationwide tours for Milkshake! – Party, Party Live and Come Out To Play; toured with Altered Skins physical theatre show Power Games and most recently starred in the one woman, socio-political show Mobile for renowned theatre company The Paper Birds touring the UK and performing in a caravan for six months!

Mobile was a real departure for me,” says Olivia. “But I always like to do new things to keep my work fresh and I like to keep busy. This year in Blackpool will be my fifth pantomime and I still can’t believe I’m getting paid to be a princess every day! This is the best job in the whole world.”

And clearly Olivia is doing something right as she recently scooped Best Female Lead in both The Great British Pantomime Awards 2017 and Panto Insider Awards 2017. “It was amazing to be recognised for something I love doing so much. Pantomime is a British institution and everyone is always up for a laugh. The cast is always like a big family and having met this year’s cast I know it will be the same again and I am really looking forward to it.”

Olivia’s panto family this year will be Union J singer and reality TV star JJ Hamblett (The X Factor); BBC Radio Lancashire presenter and Grand panto legend Steve Royle; renowned Welsh actor Melanie Walters (Gavin & Stacey) and comedy duo Jamie Morris & Tarot Joseph as the incredibly gorgeous Ugly Sisters, alongside the Barbara Jackson Theatre Arts Centre dancers and the adorable Shetland Ponies in Cinderella’s charming tale of magic, mayhem and misunderstandings, live on the Grand Theatre’s famous stage. It’s a fabulous, fairytale treat for all the family this festive season!

Take a dazzling carriage ride to Blackpool’s beautiful Grand Theatre this Christmas and enjoy one of the most enchanting rags-to-riches fairy stories of them all. Cinderella is a timeless tale of romance, scheming step-sisters, spectacular spells and a gleaming lost glass slipper – all sprinkled with plenty of seasonal sparkle. This fun-packed pantomime features hit songs, spectacular sets, hilarious dance routines and sumptuous costumes – including the unmissable moment when Cinderella swaps her dowdy rags for her stunning ball gown and is transported to the Prince’s Ball. But – don‘t forget, she needs to be home by the stroke of midnight or her true identity will be revealed! Oh yes it will!

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 popular children’s presenter ‘Grand Panto Princess‘ Olivia Birchenough (Milkshake!) as Cinderella, Union J’s JJ Hamblett (The X Factor) as the dashing Prince Charming; BBC Radio Lancashire presenter and madcap comic Steve Royle as Buttons; celebrated stage and TV star Melanie Walters (Gavin & Stacey) as Fairy Godmother 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…

Tickets are available from blackpoolgrand.co.uk or by calling the box office on 01253 290190.

 

Interview by: Sarah Jane Wright

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