YOU know when the festive is here – the curtain goes up on panto!
This year’s glistening spectacular at Milton Keynes Theatre is the Citizen sponsored Cinderella. Leisure editor Sammy Jones had a chat with the star of the show...
IF you spent an hour with Louie Spence you would have enough content to fill a book. He certainly knows how to yap.
But it’s not just talking the talk he’s good at – he can certainly walk (or dance) the walk pretty well too.
In a career littered with fancy footwork, he joined the Hot Shoe Show as a teen dancing with Wayne Sleep before bagging a full three-year scholarship with the London Studio Centre.
Louie created the thrilling acrobatics in Miss Saigon, worked with artists including Take That, Boyzone and Bjork, and has his own dance set-up, Edit Agency.
His is a familiar face on the small screen too, of course, not least for his time at Pineapple Dance Studios, and as a judge on the ITV1 hit, Dancing on Ice.
So perhaps it isn’t too surprising that when he signed up as Dandini at the Manchester Opera House last year, his panto appearance didn’t only boost ticket sales – but actually broke box office records.
Now, of course, he is midway through a super successful stint reprising the role at MK Theatre.
Saying ‘yes’ to the part again was a no-brainer.
“When they asked me to come back and do panto they asked if I would do the same one again and I said ‘Absolutely’, it really is an absolute spectacular.
“The costumes are great, the sets are great, the cast is great, and I don’t mean me,” he says leaning closer, “...the rest of the cast really are fabulous.
“Cinderella is the best pantomime. Everyone knows it, but there are twists and turns in there...a nd we cater things to me a little bit...why wouldn’t we – I’m fabulous,” he laughs.
But Panto is demanding and you need to be in peak health to make your way through the season successfully...
“It’s the hardest job you will do in this business,” he concurs, “Two shows a day for five weeks, and I am one of those people who can’t help but give 110 per cent every time.
“Sometimes I think ‘Oh God, I need to pull back a bit, I’ve got another show to do’, but once I get out there I just can’t help it.
“I think that’s why people enjoyed it so much last year,” he reasons. “Because people see how much we enjoy it and how much we give them.
“Panto is funny, it’s camp, it’s different every day, always a new show, and such a fun thing to do!”
And, if anyone knows how to put on a show, it’s Louie.
“I’ve performed all my life and it’s something I know how to do, but more than that, it’s something I love doing. It’s part of who I am and there’s nothing false about it.
“Obviously sometimes I get a bit over excited and carried away,” he admits, pausing for the smallest of breaths, “But if you do something you love doing, it shines through...”
These days, Louie is in a league of his own, but Mr Spence has worked hard for his stripes.
He too has enjoyed the highs and suffered the lows as a jobbing performer over the years.
“I feel blessed I’ve got opportunities and things haven’t dried up, fortunately,” he says, while teasing me with future plans without giving too much away.
“But you never know what will happen, this is showbusiness, you know?
“One minute I was on the Spice Girls world tour, and then I got back and didn’t work for two months...then I went into Cats and played Mistoffelees.
“Showbusiness moves so quickly...”
So, general talent aside, what is the Spence factor?
“I’m very true to myself,” he says.
“I think that’s what maybe endears people to me. I’m not run of the mill, and am very happy in my skin... I’m that happy darling, I’m gay,” he says, with a burst of familiar flamboyance.
He has more sparkle than your average bauble, indeed Louie is a cracker with plenty of bang.
Take a ticket for the MK Theatre show and you’ll see as much.
Behind us, a steady stream of press hounds are waiting for their moment with Louie.
But before we go, we simply have to ask, ‘What is that fragrance you are wearing, Mr Spence?’
“It used to be Old Spice darling,” he says, puffing up all proud, “Now it’s Chanel!”
Though really, what else could we expect from the scent-sational Louie?
Cinderella, also starring Kev Orkian, Anna Williamson and Deniece Pearson, is at MK Theatre until January 6, 2013.
To book tickets, call the box office on 0844 871 7652.