Some people look forward to the mince pies and the mulled wine. Some people look forward to the presents under the tree. Some people just want an excuse to play their Now That’s What I Call Christmas CD.
Here at Your Local Link, we look forward to pantomime season! And this year, we’re being treated to an all-star edition of Cinderella at the Grand Opera House York.
We caught up with Liberty X star Michelle Heaton, who plays the Fairy Godmother, and the son of comedian Ted Rogers, CBeebies star Danny Rogers, who plays Dandini. Both are no strangers to the stage, and have been also been in many a-panto.
“It’s lovely to be in York at Christmas,” says Danny. He tells us how excited he is to explore the city: “I’ll probably find I get a phone call telling me I’m supposed to be on stage – but I’ll just tell them I’m busy looking at all these lovely places in York and they should join me!” he laughs. Joking aside, Danny tells us he’d be keen to do more in our lovely city.
“It’d be lovely to bring [my one-man show] Bin & Gone to an intimate venue in York,” he says. The show tells the story of his late father, comedian Ted Rogers, of 3-2-1 fame. “Especially since 3-2-1 was made by Yorkshire Television.” The game show was famous for its ‘booby prize’ character, Dusty Bin. Danny remained tight-lipped over any guest appearances from Dusty in Cinderella. “You’ll have to wait and see,” he teases. And here’s a coincidence: Dusty’s creator, designer and animator John Sunderland, went on to design our very own Jorvik Viking Centre!
Michelle’s also looking forward to playing the Fairy Godmother here in York. “There’s nowhere I’d rather be. You’ve got Betty’s Tea Rooms!” She laughs. “I’m really looking forward to playing a different role. I’ve loved being evil [in previous pantomimes], but you can get complacent [playing the baddie]. And it’ll be nice to not make kids cry!”
A career on the stage was always in Michelle’s plan, since she studied Performing Arts at Newcastle College. “I always wanted to be in Chicago on the West End – something really dramatic. It’s not happened yet, but there’s still time,” she says.
But unbeknownst to Michelle at the time, ‘dramatic’ really was on the agenda for her career when she took part in the 2001 hit reality TV show, Popstars. “I saw an advert in The Stage
[newspaper] that called for people who can sing and dance. I went along in Newcastle and didn’t know anything about it – we didn’t know it was for ITV and it was the first reality show so we had nothing to compare it to. Nasty Nigel wasn’t famous then. It was only six months on that we saw how big it was. Lorraine [Kelly] contacted us and said she wanted the ‘losers’ on her show. This Morning had the winners.”
Despite the fact that Michelle didn’t win a place in the final line-up, that went on to become pop group Hear’Say, she and the four other runners-up found themselves signed with Richard Branson under their new name: Liberty X.
Catch Cinderella & the Lost Slipper at the Grand Opera House York from 14th December until 5th January. Tickets are available to book online and in the box office, or you can call 0844 871 3024. Click here for more information.