Theatre Interview: Lee Brennan, Epstein Theatre, Liverpool

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Written By: Mark Armstrong

Provided By: Epstein Theatre

Christmas is long gone and the Easter eggs are starting to fill up the shop shelves, which can only mean that the Epstein Theatre’s annual Easter pantomime is upon us! This year, it’ll be Sleeping Beauty, and another star-studded cast will include 911 star Lee Brennan and home-grown actress Tina Malone. To find out more about how the Epstein Easter extravaganza will provide, we spoke to Lee about Sleeping Beauty, his role in the production and his time as part of 911 …

First of all, tell us about your role as the Prince in Sleeping Beauty.

This is the first time I’ve played a Prince, actually. In the past, I’ve played Peter Pan and Aladdin. I’m gonna bring some energy, fun and cheekiness to the role, and of course I get to kiss the Princess, which is not a bad thing if you’re the Prince! (Laughs). I’m looking forward to it; I can’t wait to get started in rehearsals.

Who else will be starring alongside you in Sleeping Beauty?

Well, Liverpool will know Tina Malone obviously, she’s playing the villain, and we’ve just got a great cast so we’ve also got the Fairy, the Princess, the Dame etc. I’m just meeting everybody today and we’re gonna have a right laugh; I love meeting a new cast of people, and the more you work together, the better you become on stage as well. So, it’s gonna be great.

As you alluded to, you have some previous experience in pantomime.

Yeah, I’ve done around seven other pantos. I’ve been Peter Pan four times and Aladdin three times now. So, this is quite a different role for me. With Peter Pan and Aladdin, it’s all about big-time energy, and I’m flying around the place on the magic carpet. This one’s probably gonna be quite chilled out! I’ll still be giving out loads of energy though, even as a chilled-out kind of character. I’m sure that I’ll be doing some dance routines as well, so that will be fun.

You are most famous for being a member of the band 911. How did the group originally form?

Jimmy (Constable), who’s a Scouser, and “Spike” (Simon Dawbarn), who’s from Warrington, were professional street dancers together back in the day, and they used to have a show on ITV called The Hit Man and Her. So, they kind of built up a teen following, and their management helped them to get gigs. I wrote a letter to my radio station in Carlisle (CFM Radio), who were booking Jimmy and Spike for a gig at the time. Their management saw the letter that I wrote to the radio station, and got me to meet them. From there, we met a few more times, and we decided to move in together in Glasgow and start up 911. It was quite organic how it came together; there were no auditions or anything.

Where did the name 911 come from?

Our management had the name already. When I had my first meeting with them, they said that the band was going to be called 911, and I was like “That’s cool, a short and sweet and catchy name to remember”. So, it came from our management, and they got it from the American emergency services.

What were some of your favourite hits from 911’s original run?

Bodyshakin’ is probably our biggest fan favourite hit. I love performing that, and it has a great dance routine to it as well. I wrote a song called The Journey, which came from the same album (the first album that we had was called The Journey), and that was about a childhood experience. I had cancer a couple of times when I was a kid, and that song was about that, so that was one of my personal favourites. It’s got real meaning to it.

How did it feel to get the band back together as part of The Big Reunion television show and resultant tour?

It was amazing. As soon as ITV approached us, we were like “Hell yeah!” It gave us an opportunity to talk about a lot of things between each other in the band that we hadn’t spoken about before. We were really brutally honest with each other about how we felt back in the day, and it kind of cleared a lot of things up. It helped us move forward together as a band, and we’ve got a lot more respect for each other now.

Finally, what should the Liverpool audience expect from Sleeping Beauty?

It’s a great show for all ages, as most pantos are, and doing an Easter panto is great; I’d never heard of an Easter panto before, but it’s gonna be amazing. There’ll be lots of fun, lots of silliness, lots of singing, lots of dancing, and a good storyline; Sleeping Beauty’s a great story! It’s gonna be a great family show, so everybody needs to get down and enjoy it, plus the Epstein Theatre is a beautiful theatre to perform in as well.

Sleeping Beauty will be panto’ing its way into the Epstein Theatre from Friday April 7 to Sunday April 23. To book your tickets, click here.