Waterpistols, glitter and flashing wands at the ready! Laura Davis meets the stars of Merseyside’s panto stars, starting with Sonia
WHEN 90s pop star Sonia prepares to play the nasty Baronness Hardup in the Epstein Theatre’s production of Cinderella, there might be a tiny wannabe waiting in the wings.
Despite being only two-years-old, her daughter Gracie Rose has already started suggested she wants to follow in her mother’s footsteps.
“She actually sings in tune,” exclaims Sonia, who has starred in panto about 14 times before.
“She sings all of mummy’s songs and gets the mic and everything – she’s hilarious.”
Despite her tender years, Gracie has had already experienced a taste of showbiz life. She often accompanies Sonia and her tour manager on the road.
“I’m constantly gigging – I’d say I do about 60 a year,” says Sonia, 41.
“The good thing is we can take little Gracie with us to a lot of them – because we do a lot of Pride festivals and they’re in the afternoon.
There will be a treat for Gracie waiting backstage at the Epstein – the chance to meet the real life ponies that also star in the show.
“I haven’t told her yet but she’s been on the donkeys in New Brighton a few times and she loves them. She loves all types of animals and she had no fear for anything.”
Sonia is looking forward to returning to the Epstein, where she performed in Dick Whittington when it was still the Neptune Theatre.
In previous pantomimes, she has tended to play the likable roles – Peter Pan, Aladdin, fairies – but is relishing the chance to take on a nasty part.
“It’s challenging and really exciting because it’s brand new,” she says.
“I’m kind of mean but I’m a bit quirky as well.
“She’s a bit tongue in cheek. You can’t help but love her in a way.”
GivenSonia’s experience, it will come as no surprise to learn that Cinderella will be packed with songs.
Like Gracie, Sonia began singing when she was still a toddler.
“I’ve always done it. To be honest I can’t do anything else!” she laughs.
“I’ve got two older sisters who sing and I used to go and watch their shows and we all used to harmonise together.
“Since The X Factor has come on the scene it’s totally different.
“When I started out there was none of that. We started doing all pubs and clubs and trying to get our equity cards.
“I was just determined. I went to drama school when I was eight years old and singing lessons. I was always sending demo tapes off and singing anywhere I could.
“But if I was starting out now I probably would go in for The X Factor because it’s the only avenue in.”
Cinderella, which also stars ex-Brookside actor Philip Olivier and reality TV star Nikki Grahame, is at the Epstein Theatre from December 7 to January 6. Tickets: adults £18.50, concs £16.50, family ticket for two adults and two children £60. December 7-13 all seats £15 and a family ticket £55; 0844 8000 410, www.ticket quarter.com.