A FULL-throated laugh is never far away in a conversation with Sandra Marvin, currently starring in the hit musical Waitress in Manchester.

And, in part, that laughter is one of the perks of the job of being part of such an inspirational show.

“I love this show,” said Sandra, who TV viewers may remember as head teacher Jessie Grant from Emmerdale where she was a constant presence for two years.

“After Emmerdale I was lucky enough to go into Waitress in the West End and it was like being given an elixir; it made me remember how to laugh out loud and laugh so hard that sometimes I’d find myself crying.

“The show is so therapeutic, it releases your emotions.”

Sandra plays Becky, friend of Jenna - played by Lucie Jones - who dreams of escaping her small town life and a loveless marriage. A baking contest and the town’s new doctor (Matt Willis) may offer her a chance at a new life.


Sandra Marvin with co-stars Evelyn Hoskins (left) and Lucie Jones (right) in Waitress (Picture: Johan Persson)

Sandra Marvin with co-stars Evelyn Hoskins (left) and Lucie Jones (right) in Waitress (Picture: Johan Persson)


“I think what makes Waitress special is that it is so relatable,” said Sandra. “It’s all about Jessie and her two friends Becky and Dawn. They are so different but have have problems and characteristics that audiences can really identify with. It’s quite empowering to see a story played out in such a truthful but inspirational way.”

Waitress is in Manchester as part of its first UK tour having been a smash on both Broadway and the West End and Sandra cannot quite believe that she’s got the chance to take the show on the road.

“I’m so grateful to have been able to come back to Waitress,” she said. “I was only in it for three months in London when I had to leave as I was going to go on a major tour of the States in another show and then the pandemic struck.”

The fact that Waitress is one of the first major productions to play the Opera House after the enforced shutdown of theatres due to Covid isn’t lost on Sandra.

“To do something that we know touches people and will have them leaving the theatre feeling uplifted, motivated and inspired and feeling good about life is pretty special,” she said, “particularly right now.

“The day that all theatres stopped and live music stopped playing was such a shock. I never thought I’d see that day.

“But we’re back and theatre has that ability to raises your spirits; it holds a mirror to your own lives and you get transported into different world that can take on this emotional journey. Waitress one of those special shows that does that.”

Being part of the return to live theatre is something Sandra takes very seriously.

“I have never taken this job for granted whatever I’ve been involved in,” she said. “When audiences come to see us they want to be entertained and for some people a trip to the theatre is a real luxury and you have to be very aware of that.”

Even though she was in one of TV’s top soaps for more that 170 episodes many theatre audiences don’t recognise Sandra in Waitress.


Sandra played Jessie Dingle in Emmerdale for two years

Sandra played Jessie Dingle in Emmerdale for two years


“You know what,” she said, “I take that as a compliment. I think Jessie was quite a divisive character on Emmerdale and I know viewers had quite strong opinions about her but unless it’s spelled out to them that I played Jessie they don’t realise that it was me.”

Sandra has one of those CVs that many people can only dream of. As well as her TV work she has appeared in a number of West End shows including Showboat, Stepping Out and Chicago. She was also part of the original tour of Hairspray which came to the Opera House.

In addition, as a vocalist she has worked with Liam Gallagher, toured with The Charlatans and, memorably, was part of Kate Bush’s 2016 sold-out concert series Before the Dawn at London’s Hammersmith Apollo in 2016.

“I will never forget that experience from the auditions to the first day at rehearsal,” she said. “So many times I had to pinch myself that I was part of such a special show. It was one of those times when you have to try and take a mental recording of the moment. It was one of those experiences that will stick with me for the rest of my life.

“Kate Bush was just a lovely lady; so inspiring and very kind.”

What makes Sandra’s career all the more remarkable is that she was a relative late starter.


Sandra Marvin in Waitress (Picture: Johan Persson)

Sandra Marvin in Waitress (Picture: Johan Persson)


“Until my late twenties I was an account manager,” she laughs. “I had always sung and had been in various bands and I’d done quite a lot of crazy stuff I guess but it was a big decision to go for it. I really didn’t know what I was doing at the start and just worked my way up from the bottom.

“But nothing is permanent in life and I didn’t want to be in a position where I was looking back and regretting not having done things.

“I think the past 18 months have shown us that you should take the good times when they come because you don’t know what’s round the corner.”

Waitress is at Manchester Opera House until Saturday, November 20. Details from www.atgtickets.com