©Ewa Ferdynus

All Hail The Snow Queen!

We talk to Helena Blackman as she heads to the Rose to play the malevolent lead role in its Christmas spectacular

For many, the panto is the epitome of a Christmas show with barrel laughs and comedy cliché aplenty. While it is a fond part of childhood for many, the Rose usually treads a different path for its festive offering. Special effects are indeed special, the actors, made up from the theatre’s youth group are excellent, and the story enchants the children in the audience while engaging the adults.

And it can sometimes be a little darker than the usual Christmas sugar around but it is all the better for it. This year’s looks to be no different with writer and director Ciaran McConville adapting Hans Christian Andersen’s tale of the The Snow Queen ….

“No pressure,” laughs Helena Blackman as we chat during a break in the photoshoot for her role as the eponymous Snow Queen. “I have heard great things about the Rose and it is always good to be part of an original production – it is more of a creative process. You can shape the role, rather than stepping into someone else’s shoes.”

Actress and singer Helena, who first shot to fame as runner-up in the BBC show How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria? and has wowed the critics in shows such as South Pacific, is having a lot of fun with her new role.

“I have never played a baddie before and never thought I would be cast as one. She is a bit of a psychopath and she can be manipulating and emotional.”

Helena has not been looking to other acclaimed ‘baddies’ for inspiration. “For me, it is about reading the story and treating it like an investigation – what is her journey, how did all of the characters get to this point?”

The show will run throughout the festive season, something Helena loves. “I adore doing a show at Christmas. It is a busy time of year so you have to look after yourself but you can’t help but get swept up in the excitement of it all.”

She will then take some time off for “eating and drinking, and spending time with my little dog.” She is also filming for a new TV show, although it is currently hush-hush.

Helena is looking forward to working in Surrey again for The Snow Queen. She studied at the Guildford School of Acting, a time she looks back on with huge fondness. “It was always my dream to go to drama school and I got a scholarship there. Being around so many people doing what you do was like coming home,” she says.

She adds that working with people who are passionate about what they do is what she adores about her career. “I have performed in front of thousands and in front of an audience of just a handful but what I love is that I am consistently working with this calibre of people who are passionate and talented.”

The Snow Queen runs from 6 Dec until 5 Jan.

More great Christmas shows in south west London and Surrey.