By the end of this week Blackpool’s own “peoples’ Nancy” Jodie Prenger could have achieved another first – by topping the charts with the theme tune to the forthcoming Candy Cabs television series.
Currently well on her way to recovering from damaging a cartilage in her knee, Jodie – whose life changed after winning television’s search for a singer to play Nancy in the West End revival of Oliver! – is hoping to be able to jump for joy if the song, a revival of the Don Black song Please Don’t Let Me Fall In Love, which Jodie says was first recorded by Brigitte Bardot, is a hit.
With a starring role in the three-part Candy Cabs, a comedy about an all female taxi company, and a part in an episode of Waterloo Road, Jodie admits she is amazed at the way her career is going – but is concentrating on her part as Lady of the Lake in the musical spoof Spamalot which brings her back to her home town when it visits the Grand from April 18 for a week.
“I’m off my crutches now so I’ll be fine in no time,” she says. “It’s the sort of injury footballers usually get but I can’t even say it happened doing anything dramatic like falling off the stage!”
Her last Blackpool appearance was with John Barrowman at the Opera House but the last time she appeared at the Grand Theatre she recalls was in an amateur production of Mack & Mabel “about 10 years ago”.
“I’m really excited about coming back to Blackpool,” she says. “Playing your home town is always brilliant – though it’s quite nerve wracking too. I don’t think I’ll ever get over stage nerves – but it keeps you on your toes.”
Having enjoyed the drama of being Nancy she is now loving letting her hair down as Lady of the Lake in the hit musical.
“It’s so much fun and it’s absolutely hilarious to be,” she says. “It’s a combination of the Fast Show, Little Britain and Monty Python and my role is a cross between Shirley Bassey and a drag queen. It’s so good to be in a comedy and show to people that there’s more to me than just big songs - though I get those as well in this show.””
Having spent years on the lower rings of the showbusiness ladder, Jodie says she is still amazed to find herself booked up so far in advance.
“Things are coming up for well into next year an that’s a bit scary – but good scary,” she says. “And with everything being so different I’m becoming a Jill of All Tades which is good because I keep learning new things and new skills.
“That’s one of the things that is so good about Spamalot because I just stand in the wings every night and laugh at what everyone is doing. I’ve never heard audiences laugh so loud and that’s a real joy as a performer. I wasn’t even too much of a Monty Python follower because – and I love telling people this – it was before my time! But now I’ve to admit, I’m one of its biggest fans.”
One thing she would love to tackle is the musical Gypsy.
“I just see it as the ideal role for me and it’s one I’ve dreamed of playing,” she says. “Things like that have a funny way of happening for me so you never know.”.
In the meantime though, despite the fame and spotlight, she says she is the same Jodie as before her big break.
“The glamour is good but I still love coming home just as much,” she says. “Home is still important – and I still shop at Asda!”
n Spamalot is at Blackpool Grand Theatre from Monday, April 18 for a week. Call the box office on 01253 290190 or click on www.blackpoolgrand.co.uk.