Pop's Prince Charming heads for the Marlowe
FORGET distinguished and regal – Gareth Gates' portrayal of Prince Charming will be more Prince Harry than William.
The pop idol turned stage star is preparing to tread the boards at Canterbury' Marlowe Theatre for this year's panto, Sleeping Beauty.
He said: "People never know what to expect with pantos I'm in. There is a lot of music, which is what I'm best at, but I like to make my characters fun."
So how will Gareth cope with his well-documented stammer?
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He said: "Practice makes perfect so I rehearse a lot. But it is the conversational aspects I still find difficult.
"But once I have learnt a script, built up confidence and learned the character, I'm fine with it. I become so immersed in the character that I'm no longer Gareth."
Gareth, 27, was famously runner-up to Will Young in the first series of TV's Pop Idol and has since carved out a successful music career, selling 3.5 million records.
He is currently starring in the musical Loserville in Leeds and will join the Legally Blonde tour with his Sleeping Beauty co-star Faye Brookes in July.
Joining Gareth will be former punk princess Toyah Willcox, who is looking forward to her turn as the dastardly Wicked Fairy.
Toyah has plenty of experience playing the baddie, observing that women over 40 are usually typecast as villains.
She was bitten by the panto bug at the Marlowe Theatre in 1993 when she starred in Peter Pan alongside Brian Blessed.
She has since appeared in countless pantomimes – six at the Marlowe – but this will be her first in the new building.
She said: "It's a fantastic theatre. I've never had a bad show here. It's a great venue for the audience."
Throughout the run all of the cast members will be staying in Canterbury, which is now a home from home for Toyah.
Such is her love for the city that she has pulled her property investments from Europe to plough into the Canterbury area.
She said: "It's such a multi-cultural city and I'm a real culture vulture. I love the architecture and the Cathedral and the High Street are great. I do my Christmas shopping here every year."
Younger audience members will recognise Katrina Bryan – star of the CBeebies series Nina and the Neurons – who will play Toyah's nemesis the Good Fairy.
Completing the cast is Marlowe panto regular Ben Roddy as the Dame and Margate comedian Lloyd Hollett as the Storyteller.
Sleeping Beauty is at the Marlowe Theatre from November 30 to January 20. To book tickets, call the Box Office on 01227 787787 or go to marlowetheatre.com