Niki Evans, who shot to fame in the fourth series of The X Factor, is looking forward to being wicked in Worthing this Christmas. Very wicked.
She started out in pantomime in Cinderella in Wolverhampton, attracted to it by the dresses, the make-up and the wigs. Since then, she’s kept on coming back.
“I have done one every year now for ten years. Sometimes they merge into one.
“I have done a couple of Cinderellas, a couple of Sleeping Beauties; I have done Jack and the Beanstalk. I have to think what I did last year!”
But yes, it really does matter which pantomime you are watching, Niki insists. It really shapes what kind of fairy you are being.
Except this year, of course, she is playing the Wicked Queen, for the second time.
“People think I am all sweet and kind and nice, but this is the real me.
“I am going to be absolutely foul. And I am going to love every minute of it. It’s much more hilarious.
“The more they shout at me and boo, the more I love it.”
In fact, one year, she frightened a young boy so much, he threw a satsuma at her. Another time, a young lad unwisely thought that Niki on stage couldn’t see the hand gestures he was making. And no, Niki declines to specify just what those hand gestures were.
Suffice to say the little boy certainly didn’t expect Niki to leave the stage, go out into the auditorium and invite him to stand up and do the hand gestures for the benefit of everyone. Perhaps unsurprisingly, he didn’t want to.
“He went absolutely white. He was shocked. Maybe I saved him from a life of crime, I don’t know. Maybe because of me, he won’t now be appearing on Crimewatch!
“But I just love doing panto. I love everything about Christmas, and there is nothing quite like Christmas like being in a pantomime. My boys are in their 20s now, but they come down and watch me do it, and they think it is hilarious.”
In between the pantos, Niki has enjoyed huge success in musical theatre. She did two and a half years in the West End in Blood Brothers, and then she went on tour with the show for another 18 months.
Then she did Legally Blonde before going back to Blood Brothers and then Grease 2.
“If the opportunity ever arises, I would definitely go back to Blood Brothers. Mrs Johnstone is very close to my heart.
“Sometimes I even just slip into a Scouse accent! I think Mrs Johnstone has become part of me.”
Some of it perhaps is just a little too close to home. The tragic tale of Mrs Johnstone’s two sons, separated at birth, is just too much for Niki’s own two sons in its closing stages.
They have both seen the show a couple of dozen times each but neither of them is prepared to stay until the show’s tragic closing moments.
Niki, however, just can’t get away. And nor would she want to.
“I take Mrs Johnstone everywhere, and the whole Blood Brothers thing has become a family.
“Whether you were in it 25 years ago or are in it now, you are all Blood Brothers family.”
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is at the Pavilion Theatre, Worthing from Friday, December 1 to Monday, January 1.
Tickets on 01903 206206 and www.worthingtheatres.co.uk.
Headlining the show is the Chesney Hawkes who steps into pantoland as Snow White’s very own handsome prince. Meanwhile, West End and The X Factor star Cassie Compton also joins the cast.