Sweet, gracious - and plain confused

Actress Roanna Cochrane could be forgiven for feeling all mixed up as she plays the title role in a non-panto version of Cinderella.

She has been rehearsing it while also performing two other plays at the Nuffield Theatre, Southampton, and on tour.

She says: 'My prince in one is my father in another. My babysitter in one is in love with me in the next. And my lovely mother in one becomes my evil mother. It can be quite confusing.'

But then confusion usually reigns at some point in the Nuffield Christmas shows, so the 23-year-old from Cobham in Surrey can probably get away with most things.

Roanna may sound like a made-up, professional name, but it is real and means 'sweet and gracious'. She smiles: 'You can decide whether it's true.'

She says Patrick Sandford's version of The Story of Cinderella has some pantomime gags, 'but there's a twist in a lot of the characters.

'The Fairy Godmother isn't quite who she seems, appearing in many different shapes and forms. There may be romances you haven't seen before, and although the Prince is played by a man, Dandini is played by a woman.

'It's very funny and there are a lot of beautiful songs.'

The cast includes two Nuffield Christmas 'veterans', David Alcock and Andy Spiegel, and Roanna says they bounced off each other well in rehearsal.

She expects them to be at the forefront of ad-libbing and changing gags.

The show had its first public preview this week and opens officially on Tuesday, December 5.