Jack Edwards knew he would be starring in Cinderella at The Kings Theatre before he had even finished stealing the show as Dame Sarah Spoilit in their 2017 panto – Snow White.
And the Portsmouth lad made West End star was keen to return to his favourite hometown venue.
‘I got a call to the office, and it was probably about two weeks into the run,’ Jack recalls, ‘And they said, “We’re already looking at next year”, which is wise, “and would you be interested in coming back?”
‘Of course I said “Yes” straight away. I’m local, it’s nice playing your local theatre, and we all know how lovely this theatre is. It’s great to be at home as well, but there’s something about this theatre – don’t ever think I take it for granted – and I wouldn’t be taking it easy just because I’m at home – I’ve still got to do the job. But I just love being here!
‘It was such a lovely honour to be asked so early on.’
When he agreed to sign on again, he didn't even know which part it would be for.
‘I’ve done the ugly sister when we did it before, so they said to change it up we may need to do something a bit different. It was Simon, the director, who said, how about the wicked stepmum? I think we can have a bit of fun with that…’
And given the glowing reviews, it seems like the right choice.
READ MORE: Crowds have a ball at Cinderella
Although he has played the panto villain before at The Kings – he was Abanazar in Aladdin back in 2014, he relishes the comedy aspect of the dame and didn’t want to lose that this time out.
Speaking ahead of the show’s launch he says: ‘I’m used to being the dame, having lots of fun and playing around with the audience, it could be quite restricting [being the baddie].
‘I was worried she was going to be evil-evil, but actually, I think we’ll get in a bit of comedy too.
‘And I like that, because I don’t want to lose sight of what I’ve done here in previous years, where people know me for the dame side of things.’
Of his fellow cast Jack has obviously worked with fellow returnees Marcus Patrick (Dandini) and Simon Grant (Buttons).
But he has also worked with Fairy Godmother Natasha Barnes when they were together in a concert version of Mack and Mabel at The Hackney Empire.
Natasha, a rising star of musical theatre, has taken the lead in the West End and touring the UK in Funny Girl, and also released her debut album, real, in 2018.
‘When I found out she was thinking about doing this, it was absolutely brilliant. She’s such a brilliant performer – such a little firecracker. She’s going to be a massive star – she will just soar. The voice – wow! She’s a really good catch for here.’
READ MORE: Meet Cinders’ Fairy Godmother
And Prince Charming is played by reality TV star, Jake Quickenden, who Jack was looking forward to working with.
‘I think he’ll be good, he can do it. I love it when you book a celeb and they can do it, I just hate it when they can’t. That’s interesting...’ Jack tails off, obviously thinking back to a run from personal experience.
READ MORE: Jake Quickenden on riding fame’s wave
Although Jack has appeared in numerous West End and national touring shows, from Guys and Dolls to Mack and Mabel, The Rocky Horror Show and Oliver! he’s stepping back from his theatre work for the moment.
Since late 2017 he has been co-owner of the revived Gaiety Bar on South Parade Pier, with business partner Trevor Bratty.
READ MORE: The return of The Gaiety Bar
‘I’m taking a break because of The Gaiety. I had to make a decision, and if I can do more local stuff and the odd concert that would be lovely.
‘I’m not saying I won’t to go back to it, but right now I have to prioritise The Gaiety because that’s such a big venture, and it’s been a good year.’
The Kings Theatre, Southsea
Until January 6