Jodie’s double date on home turf will keep her busy

Jodie Prenger
Jodie Prenger

Last time Jodie Prenger stepped on stage on the Fylde, it was a rather soggy West End Proms at Lytham Festival.

On Monday, she’ll open a week’s run with some sunnier weather as one-woman play Shirley Valentine comes to the Grand Theatre.

Shirley Valentine, by celebrated Liverpool playwright Willy Russell, is the heart-warming tale of a middle-aged woman - stuck in a rut of cooking egg and chips for her husband - who runs away to the sunnier climes of Greece to find herself.

“Watching it, you feel like you’re in Shirley’s kitchen, having a good natter, and then we get to go to Greece and it’s all right,” Jodie said. “It sounds silly, but it’s like a musical without the songs. Willy Russell has a real rhythm to his writing.”

As is to be expected with Willy Russell’s work, the play’s set on Merseyside, so Jodie’s worked on her Scouse accent - and it pops up here and there in conversation.

Talking about her ‘chickens’, there’s no doubt she’s got the accent down well, I joke with her.

“Someone else has said I slip into ‘Shirley’,” she said. “I can’t say ‘water’ normally now, and I’ve definitely been picking it up more.

“I got a recording of Willy Russell on my phone which I used to help learn it.

“But at the same time, I couldn’t make Shirley’s accent too hard; people wouldn’t understand me if it was too full on. I keep some words quite plain, because if I can’t understand me saying it, the audience certainly wouldn’t.”

Jodie, who grew up in central Blackpool and lives in Poulton, came to national attention winning BBC’s I’d Do Anything talent show in 2008.

And although she’s worked pretty constantly ever since, her appearances back home have been few and far between, so she’s excited to be back.

Fans are in for a double treat as she’s starring in the brand new musical Fat Friends, based on Kay Mellor’s hit TV show, which will come to the Opera House next May. And she can’t wait to be back on the local stages.

Shirley Valentine

Grand Theatre, Blackpool

Monday until Saturday September 16