Samantha Womack – She’s Behind You!

Wicked ways

Samantha Womack is coming to New Wimbledon Theatre this winter as the Wicked Stepmother in Cinderella. We catch up with the actress to find out why she loves panto

Are you looking forward to joining the production?
I actually wasn’t going to do panto this year. I was going to try and have some downtime as I’ve been touring with Girl on the Train but because it’s Wimbledon – I’m a massive fan of Wimbledon Theatre – I just thought why not? And I love being in that part of the world for Christmas.

So New Wimbledon Theatre holds a special place for you?
Yeah, I’ve been there with lots of productions, we’ve done South Pacific, Guys and Dolls, The Addams Family and I just always really liked it. It’s got a very good atmosphere and a loyal following. And it’s just a really nice area, so I always really loved working there.

Do you enjoy playing a baddie?
Yes, there’s something more theatrical about the baddie. It’s funny, I think you gravitate towards these roles when you get older, I just think you can lose yourself in them a little bit more. I spent my 20s and 30s being twee and sweet and quite frankly I’m a bit bored of it!

What can audiences expect from the show?
It’ll be a typical Qdos production – fun packed, colourful and there will be jokes in there for the adults as well as the kids. The cast is great, I love Leslie Garrett – she’s the fairy godmother and will assume the role beautifully. Panto has had a kind of resurgence in popularity in the last three or four years with names like Julian Clary, Jennifer Saunders, and Ian McKellen wanting to do panto. People have really started to embrace it as a traditional British pastime and I’m really glad because ten years ago people were quite snooty about it and that always irritated me because I think of it as part of our heritage and something that we should be proud of. I’ve had people come from across the world to see pantos and they just think it’s absolutely barmy, but I kind of love that about it. The likes of Qdos has kind of brought panto back to the forefront and you’ve got huge names signing up to do it now. It’s just brilliant and I’m so glad people are embracing it now.

Are you a fan of Christmas?
I like the sense of occasion but I’m not a huge fan of buying and receiving presents and the manic shopping. My kids are a bit older now so we tend to opt for an experience we can share together. This year my daughter, my sister, my mum and I are going to see Matthew Bourne’s Red Shoes.