Her motto may be NADD — Never A Dull Day — but it’s more like Never A Dull Year, as Jodie Prenger has been almost constantly in work since winning the nation’s heart in her bid to become Nancy on TV talent search I’d Do Anything. ANNA MANSELL spoke to her as she prepares to step back on the North West’s stage in the hugely popular One Man Two Guvnors.
MY resolutions for 2013 are one: To lose weight; two: To get married; and three: To ride a bike. I never learned as a kid,” Jodie Prenger said.
The popular actress got engaged to businessman Simon Booth in April, just before her dad’s sudden death from kidney cancer — he was diagnosed two days after the proposal, and died just 10 days later.
Despite initial talk of getting married early this year, no plans have yet been made for the big day.
“You start to plan, then work comes in the way,” said Jodie.
“Maybe I will bicycle down the aisle, combining all three resolutions at once.
“But that’s been the story of my life so far — like Forrest Gump says: ‘Like is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get’.”
Since March, Lancashire lass Jodie has been in One Man, Two Guvnors — the play which catapulted James Corden from TV funnyman to Broadway star and Tony Award winner — at the Haymarket Theatre in London’s West End, as Dolly the buxom bookkeeper love interest of the tale.
She spent a week with the touring cast in her hometown of Blackpool in November and from Tuesday she’s back in the region to rejoin the tour at The Lowry, Salford Quays, where the play enjoyed a sell-out run in 2011.
“I’m so very lucky to be in One Man with the West End cast, but then also very lucky to get the week in Blackpool and now at The Lowry.
“It is genuinely one of those things that everybody loves. It has really good comedy; I have never heard audiences laugh the way they have at this.
“The writer Richard Bean is phenomenal. He used to be a stand-up comedian and you have one-liners which are brilliant as well as the slapstick. It’s like Carry On meets Only Fools And Horses.
“It has deserved every award it has won.”
One job which certainly didn’t win any awards was the ill-fated Coronation Street musical Street Of Dreams, in which Jodie played the iconic character Elsie Tanner. The show played just two nights at the Manchester Arena before a national tour was ‘postponed’ amid talk of financial collapse, leaving stars Paul O’Grady, Bill Roache and Julie Goodyear and the behind-the-scenes crew unpaid.
The show’s failure was a disappointment to Jodie, who admits her biggest ambition is to appear in Coronation Street.
“I always say that, but it’s such a great Northern show,” she laughs.
“I loved working with the lovely cast and crew. There were a lot of Corrie people involved,” she said.
“And I did do some filming on the Street, on the cobbles as Elsie.
“But it’s one of those hit and miss things. Shows fail every month in London where something doesn’t quite go off. Because it was Coronation Street, it got much more coverage.”
The experience hasn’t put Jodie off musical theatre though, and she’s keen to return to singing when she finishes One Man, Two Guvnors “Although there is music in One Man, I do miss musicals and would love to do more singing again. And I love the vintage vibe. I’ve sung at the Vintage Festival,” she said of Blackburn designer Wayne Hemingway’s award-winning event, where she sang at the Royal Festival Hall in 2011. “That’s something I’d like to do more of.”
Jodie may be as Northern as a stick of Blackpool rock but she’s become a ‘roamer’ since winning the TV talent show back in 2008, splitting her life between her hometown and London, where much of her work on stage, radio and TV takes place.
Even her stint at The Lowry will be interrupted by one last day’s performances with the current London cast before the new one comes in but she’s looking forward to some time in the region.
“Home is now really between the two — Blackpool and London. I’ve become a bit of a roamer as I haven’t settled in the last five years since I’d Do Anything.
“When I finish in Manchester, I’ve got about a week off then some more filming and radio to do. So, touch wood, I’ve been very lucky.
“If I’m not working, I usually come home most Sundays as I love it, and my dogs and animals, which I can’t have in my apartment in London.
“The minute I walk through the door, they don’t care about anyone else. We go for walks in Stanley Park, which is near where I live.
“Blackpool is great. I’m very proud to be from Blackpool and the way it is changing now on the front, and there’s been a £3million grant for performing arts — it has to move with the times, but it’s such a great place for entertainment.
“Longer term, I’ll probably come back here — it’s only a two-hour commute by train and Blackpool’s where I come for my normality. Me and my fella’s saying is NADD ‘Never a dull day’, so I need the escape.
“He runs an eco car company near Preston and it is tough. He comes down at weekends when I can’t come back. But as a lot of people find in the theatre industry, if you’re partner’s got a nine to five job, you don’t see each other much anyway — you’re going to work as they’re coming home.”
- One Man, Two Guvnors, The Lowry, Salford Quays, Tuesday until Saturday, January 19. Tickets from £18 on 0843 208 6000.