Theatre Interview: Lucy-Jo Hudson, St. Helens Theatre Royal, St. Helens

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Written By: Mark Armstrong

HI-HO! Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs is coming to St. Helens Theatre Royal this Christmas, where a combination of hilarious jokes, classic songs, eye-catching dance moves and colourful costumes, along with one of the most familiar stories ever told, all come together for one fantastic pantomime experience. Plus, Johnny Vegas will star as The Magic Mirror, one who is not afraid to speak the truth! Also appearing in the role of Snow White will be Lucy-Jo Hudson, who has built quite the career in acting, dancing and singing, from the cobbles of Coronation Street to the wildlife of South Africa! We spoke to Lucy-Jo about her forthcoming appearance in Snow White, as well as her career highlights so far and her future ambitions. We also ask Lucy-Jo: what’s the worst Christmas present that you’ve ever had?

First of all, tell us about your role in Snow White.

So, I play Snow White, and having read the script, I’ve noticed that Snow White has got a bit of banter about her. It’s really funny, and she tries herself to be funny but she’s not. She’s also got her best friend Muddles, and they’re really cute together. Obviously, Snow White also meets the Seven Dwarfs, she leaves the Kingdom because her step-mum is trying to kill her. When you think about it, it is a dark storyline, but the show is very light, with it being a panto. Then she meets the Prince and falls in love, and they live happily ever after!

Have you always been a fan of pantomime?

Yeah, I used to go and see pantos when I was a kid, and I would sometimes be one of the dancers when I was a toddler. And after I left Corrie I did Cinderella, which was the first proper panto that I did at the Lowry Theatre. I’ve not done anything in panto since then so I’m a bit nervous about getting into singing and full-on dancing again, but it’ll be good fun, and everybody seems to love panto, so I’m excited.

I understand you have a fair amount of theatre experience yourself?

Yeah, I used to perform in theatre before I got into acting. I was mainly a dancer in theatre, so I did the dancing, a little bit of singing, and then it was straight onto acting. My career sort of changed once I got onto telly quite quickly.

You really made your name as Katy Harris on Coronation Street. What were the highlights of your time on the soap, and were there any scenes or storylines which you found difficult to perform?

It was so long ago now! The most difficult storyline was actually the one which led to me leaving, when Katy had to kill her dad and then she overdosed on sugar because she was diabetic, which led to her going into a coma, and then she passed away. They were pretty dark scenes, and they took quite a toll on me personally. I was crying 24/7 on set, so it’s hard to leave that at work, and you end up taking it home. So, towards the end of my career at Corrie, I think that was the hardest bit, just because it was quite a heavy storyline for me. It was brilliant, amazing and challenging, so I did love it, but I was sort of ready for it to end as well. I loved my time there, though: my mates are still there, I met my hubby (Alan Halsall) when doing Corrie and he’s still there. So, I still have a lot of love for Corrie; it’s like family.

From there, you moved onto Wild At Heart, where you became a regular character as Rosie Trevanion. Are there any interesting stories you can tell from filming in South Africa?

Oh, there’s so many! The animals never played ball. We’d be waiting for an hour for an elephant to turn up, and then it would decide that it didn’t want to and it’d storm off set, so we’d be like “Okay, we’re not doing that scene!” Giraffes would fall into the water, and this one day we had to finish by helping to dig this giraffe out of a pool that it had fallen into. Lions were escaping on-set (laughs) … it was chaos! It looked magical and really easy on telly, but it was one of the hardest jobs that I’ve done, because the heat was intense, but we had to work around the animals, and they just didn’t want to be on-set a lot of the time! So, it was brilliant, and it was amazing to be working up close and personal with the animals, but if they didn’t want to do it, they’d let you know about it!

Earlier this year, you appeared on Dance Dance Dance, where you finished 2nd. How was that experience?

It was amazing! Harder than I thought; I thought I’d get in there and be like “Yeah, I can do it!” Oh my God, I was dying; by the end of the first week, I was done! I genuinely loved that; I started off in dancing, and I still have a passion for dance, even though I hadn’t done it for over 18 years. So I wanted to do it. I had to push myself to some limits, but I really, really enjoyed it. That also got me back in panto, because being on stage made me want to do panto.

What are your future ambitions within your career?

I’ve just filmed a BBC drama which is out next spring with Robson Green. So, that opened a door for me getting into dramas that are quite serious, which I really want to do more of, things like the short six-parters. So, I loved that and I’d like that to continue.

Of course, this panto will be taking place over the run-up to Christmas. Can you tell us what the worst Christmas present is that you’ve ever received?

I can’t wait for Christmas; if I could have my Christmas tree up all year round, then it would be up all year round. I love the lights, I love the songs; I love everything about Christmas! So, panto is perfect for me. As for my worst Christmas present … I think I got a bangle from one of the markets, and it ended up going green after like one day. That was from an in-law, I won’t say who, and I obviously don’t have that anymore! (Laughs)

Finally, why should the St. Helens audience come to see Snow White?

For a start, it’s got Johnny Vegas in it as the Magic Mirror. The cast are lovely, the script is very funny, and St. Helens Theatre Royal is a very intimate theatre, so you’re gonna feel like you’re a part of it. The songs are mega for all the kids, and it’s gonna be a lot of fun. So, I think it will be magical, and it’s the lead-up to Christmas where you’ll want to see a panto, so you must come down!

Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs runs at St. Helens Theatre Royal from Saturday December 2 to Sunday January 7 2018. To book your tickets, click here.