After starting out as a pop star in reality TV band Hear’Say, Suzanne Shaw has carved out a successful career as an actor appearing in numerous stage musicals and enjoying a stint in Emmerdale. Now she’s heading to Richmond Theatre to star as the Genie in Aladdin and she spoke to Will Gore ahead of the panto’s opening night.
Are you looking forward to Aladdin getting started?
I’m really excited to be doing the panto – I’ve done a few before and I’ve always really enjoyed myself. I’ve acted at Richmond Theatre a few times and it’s a really lovely theatre to perform at and the audiences are always really nice too. Richmond is also absolutely beautiful at this time of year and I don’t live too far away so I can commute from home too.
Did you go to panto much when you were younger?
Like a lot of British kids I’ve grown up with the British tradition of panto and when I was at school I was taken to them quite a few times. For loads of children it is their first experience of theatre, so it’s important to make it a good one.
Why do you think pantomimes are still so popular with audiences?
Having my son, Corey, has made me appreciate panto so much more. As an actor you can go through stages of thinking you are too cool for it, but it is just such a fantastic tradition and everyone can get away with so much. It really lightens up kids’ days. When I did my previous panto it was the first time Corey could come and watch me on stage and he loved it. He saw the show about 15 times. One of the performances was on his birthday so he brought all of his mates, something we’ll do again this year at Richmond.
Do you mind all the audience participation?
Not at all. After doing The Rocky Horror Show, I can handle anything. In panto, because of all the shout outs, you get the feeling that anything can happen and that makes it really exciting.
Why did you want to play the Genie this time around?
I did Snow White and Cinderella before and one of the reasons I really wanted to do Aladdin and play the Genie was to play a different kind of character that would allow me to have a bit more fun and tell a few jokes.
So will you be taking your co-star Tim Vine on joke for joke?
He is master of one liners, so it would be really silly of me to even attempt to out do a professional comedian on stage. I would end up making a massive fool of myself!
Having done a number of musicals and pantos now, do you think acting on stage is where your future lies?
I’d actually love to get into TV comedy at some point, but in this business you can never say never because you never know what’s going to come up next. I used to hate that, but I’ve learned to enjoy the surprises. I never thought I’d be in Hear’Say and then all the other shows and random things I’ve done since, but I’ve been a lucky girl.