BBC RADIO KENT
BBC RADIO KENT
MATTHEW: One of the stars of the “Sleeping Beauty” pantomime in Marlow Theatre, Toyah Willcox, spoke to her earlier this morning.
TOYAH (on the phone) : Good Morning! How are you Matthew?
MATTHEW: Very well. Or … as my iPhone wrote in it's spell check: “Total Willcox”.
TOYAH: That's an interesting one. I've not come come across that one before! (chuckles)
MATTHEW: Well, I think it's the next album.
MATTHEW: "Total Willcox".
TOYAH: Actually, that's not a bad idea at all. (Matthew laughs) I will write that down and remember it.
MATTHEW: It's good to see you in Panto again and what I like about yourself in Panto, Toyah, is your background in acting, and I'm one for that Panto's done "proper" …
TOYAH: Oh yeah. Do you know I've done 18 Pantomime's and I've been very lucky that they've all been done "proper". It's – I just get so mad when people don't respect the genre. It's a genre that started with Shakespeare and to a certain degree with Chaucer and there is absolutely no reason not to do it properly.
MATTHEW: Oh, me and you we could mither on about it for hours!
MATTHEW: I remember – Cannon and Ball and one of them came to the front of the stage as Captain Hook and said “don't worry kids, it's only pretend!” and I was like “nooooo!”
TOYAH: Well, there's nothing pretend about "Sleeping Beauty". It's got the highs and lows that you'd expect from "Richard The III".
MATTHEW: And who you do play?
TOYAH: I'm the wicked Queen. Well, the wicked Fairy. There's a good fairy and there's a wicked fairy and it's very, very funny. It's very surreal – it's obviously family orientated, it's an incredibly fast production in that the things that we do I'm amazed that I can do them. I'm 54 and every morning I get up and I think "my goodness - I can still move today!"
It's very high action, it's got things in it that I love. I mean when we were teching this – I can't tell you everything because it's a surprise but there is one moment that happens at the end of act one where I couldn't speak, I was so thrilled! (chuckles)
MATTHEW: In the horrible stakes – where's the line for you?
TOYAH: Oh, there is no line. They've got to hate me. They've got to hate me and they've got believe they can bully me, this is the audience. But at the end end of act one that changes radically. Because something happens where I win everyone's respect! (both laugh)
MATTHEW: What I love about a proper baddie is this mind-set that you will take over and rule the universe!
TOYAH: You've got to be as mad as they come! (Matthew laughs) And I think what's really interesting casting me as the baddie is that I'm the oldest member of the company and I'm the smallest member of the company. So I come on in one of the first scenes and people are booing and hissing and saying "get off!" and stuff like that but by the end I've got them! I've totally got them which means and I can be as mad or as dictatorial as I want to be.
MATTHEW: Yeah. I remember making Brownies cry when I played Captain Hook and I was thrilled with meself! (Toyah laughs) Toyah, when you were offered this role to be a baddie – is it the usual place where you would sit in a pantomime cast?
TOYAH: Well, since I was 40, yes. The thing is I started 18 years ago playing Peter Pan, Jack in "Jack and The Beanstalk", I was Aladdin ... and then suddenly you hit your forties and this magical opportunity comes along to be the baddie. I prefer being the baddie because you can more extreme, you can be completely outlandish and get away with it. And I love shouting back at the audience and being rude to them. It's great great fun!
MATTHEW: And all those lines “I've got a soft spot for kids”... all sorts -
TOYAH: Oh, they all have their uses! I find “shut up” very useful! (Matthew laughs)
MATTHEW: And Toyah, how do you link the Toyah brand with being a wicked fairy? Because we want to hear you sing!
TOYAH: Well, I've come straight from tour to do this. I just keep them completely separate. People who are watching me in "Sleeping Beauty" have probably seen me in concert. But that's absolutely fine, that's perfectly cool. You can't match it up. Panto is a brand of its own. It's widely disrespected but I think people like Evolution who wrote and directed and produced this show get so much respect for what they do so you get these pockets where people know that the panto is going to be groundbreaking.
MATTHEW: Who would've thought, back in '79 when you were putting together “Sheep Farming In Barnet” that today you'd sharing about being in “Sleeping Beauty” in Canterbury?
TOYAH: But not only that but also coming off a world tour as well!
MATTHEW: Not bad, eh?!
TOYAH: Not bad!
MATTHEW: What's the future Toyah?
TOYAH: I'm back on the road immediately after Panto – I have to go to Seattle to promote a new album. And then open in "Hormonal Housewifes" which is three hand comedy tour, I open on that on the 5th of March in Bromley. And that is 67 venues in two and a half months. And as soon as I finish that, back on the road with the Toyah band. So it's quite a frantic year already.
MATTHEW: Is it nice being in Kent? You do have a soft spot for us?
TOYAH: Oh, I love it! I love Canterbury. It's one of my favourite places in the world. It's so buzzy. Each morning before the show I go out for a walk. And it just peps me up!
MATTHEW: Cool. Thank you very much indeed, the star of “Sleeping Beauty” -
TOYAH: It's not just me – there's Gareth Gates as well.
MATTHEW: Of course, yeah. And a full cast – a near faultless production says the Kent Messenger. Thank you so much for your time Toyah, have a fantastic season!
TOYAH: Thank you! And happy Christmas!
"Sleeping Beauty" runs until the 20th of January at the Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury, Kent.