Home-coming year for Singing star Jodie

Jodie Prenger as Shirley Valentine.
Jodie Prenger as Shirley Valentine.

Jodie Prenger looks forward to Lytham Proms and heart-warming one woman play Shirley Valentine ANNA CRYER reports.

It’s been nine years since bubbly Blackpool lass Jodie Prenger came to our attention on BBC’s I’d Do Anything talent show.

But her appearances locally have been few and far between since then.

Until now, that is, as she has three local dates within less than a year; appearing at Lytham Festival’s West End Proms show tomorrow (Sunday 06 August), in one-woman play Shirley Valentine at the Grand Theatre next month, and in new musical Fat Friends at the Opera House in May.

Jodie’s last local stage appearance was back in 2012 in One Man, Two Guv’nors at the Grand, so she can’t wait to make her return.

That said, there was, of course, a brief outing at last year’s West End Proms night at Lytham Festival, which got called off - mid-show - due to gale force winds and torrential rain blowing in.

“It was so sad,” she said. “It was so British, people sat there with their picnic tables, clasping on to their sausage rolls - in that wind and rain.”

The all-star cast has been reunited for tomorrow’s show, which will also feature Lea Salonga, Collabro, Marti Pellow and Claire Sweeney, with the Heart of England 60-piece orchestra.

“I’d been in the rehearsals and saw the show and sound check, so I knew how great it was going to be,” Jodie said. “You don’t even see show line-ups like that on Broadway.

“It’s a beautiful festival, I was taken aback by the atmosphere last year, and that weather was literally once in a moon - it’s never happened there before, so we should be OK this time.

“Anything I can do at home, I love. To have such a fantastic show on your doorstep is amazing.”

Jodie’s diary has been jam packed in recent years, which makes her lack of local appearances something of a surprise.

The last two weeks of current tour Shirley Valentine coincide with the start of rehearsals for Fat Friends, and it’s been relentless for some time now.

“I’ve been busy for a while, literally, from Annie, to panto, Tell Me On A Sunday, Jamie Johnson [CBBC series], and Dubai, then panto and Shirley,” the former Elmslie School pupil and student of Blackpool and The Fylde College said.

“You enjoy it, but you lose sight of the fact you’re living like a gypsy; you know the colour of your suitcase better than your front door.”

With such busy schedule, how does she keep going?

“Firstly, it’s the parts I think. It’s bizarre how you change through them,” she explained. “I enjoyed something as vile as Madam Thenardier or Miss Hannigan, then play someone softer like Shirley Valentine.

“There’s probably far more of me as I am now in Shirley Valentine, although I’m younger than people think of her being.

“But it’s the warm northern soul of her, and brilliant one-liners.”

As a decade in the limelight approaches, Jodie still can’t believe her luck since winning I’d Do Anything but admits she’s worked hard and has a good team around her helping to keep her in work.

“I genuinely thought I’d work for a couple of years [after that show] and then stop,” she said. “I’ve been really, really lucky, to carry on working and getting the roles I have been and in all the different mediums too.

“But I work hard and don’t sit back and I’ve never taken it for granted.”

Tickets available from www.lythamfestival.com.

Career highs

Since winning I’d Do Anything in May 2008, Jodie’s gone on to have a glittering career on stage.

She made her West End debut in the ensemble of Les Miserables before takeing up her prize role of Nancy in Oliver!

She’s also played leading roles, The Lady In The Lake in Spamalot, Calamity Jane, Miss Hannigan in Annie and fronting one-woman musical Tell Me On A Sunday.

On October she launches brand new musical Fat Friends.