EastEnders actress Rita Simons to show her wicked side in St Albans panto

PUBLISHED: 15:00 06 September 2016 | UPDATED: 15:17 06 September 2016

Rita Simons is starring as the Wicked Queen in this years production of Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs at the Alban Arena.

Rita Simons is starring as the Wicked Queen in this years production of Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs at the Alban Arena.

Danny Loo Photography 2016

Box office records are already falling for this year's Alban Arena pantomime - more than three months before it opens.

Rita Simons, who is best known for playing Roxy in BBC soap EastEnders, is the star name in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the 2016 Arena pantomime.

She will be dressing up to play the Wicked Queen Morgiana joined by Brian Wheeler, who has appeared in Harry Potter and Star Wars, as one of the dwarfs, Ian Kirkby, who will be returning to the Arena for his fourth pantomime to play Herman the Henchman, and St Albans favourite, Bob Golding who plays the Dame, Nurse Nellie.

Producer and writer, Paul Hendy, believes this year’s show will be the “most spectacular” having already beaten ticket sales at the same time last year for Peter Pan which he also produced.

He said: “Ticket sales are up on last year which is brilliant; it’s a real testament to the strength of the productions and the Alban Arena.”

The audience can expect to see “something very exciting” as Paul is planning “something that has never been done before”.

He added: “We are working on something special, but I don’t want to say too much in case it doesn’t happen, but watch this space.

“This is undoubtedly the strongest cast we’ve ever had at the Alban Arena and I think it’s going to be the biggest, the best and the funniest.”

Snow White will be Rita’s second panto after playing the same character in a production in Canterbury last year and she is looking forward to getting booed as she takes on the role of the evil stepmother.

She said: “I love playing the baddie, it’s so much fun; you get to scare little kids and you get to scare grown-ups.

“I have a knack for dealing with hecklers, I can throw insults out at the drop of a hat and it’s so much fun that you can backchat the audience.

“If you get booed it’s your version of getting cheered and I love it. “

Rita is set to leave EastEnders after playing Roxy for the last nine years and is looking forward to spending the festive season in St Albans because she lives close by.

She continued: “I have loads of St Albans connections; my auntie lives in St Albans and so this year I will go there for Christmas.”

Rita described herself as the “queen of nervous” as panto time looms. She explained: “I still get nervous every show and I’m very bad at waiting to go on stage.

“Last year’s show in Canterbury opened with me on my own with a spotlight and that was very scary.”

She added that playing the evil queen was the “polar opposite” of Roxy’s character and she was “looking forward to the camaraderie and the show”.

Other cast members include Lauren Cocoracchio as Snow White, Jo Parsons as Prince Charming and David Bibby as Muddles.

Snow White runs from December 8 until January 8 and for more information and tickets, visit www.alban-arena.co.uk/events/snow-white-the-seven-dwarfs

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