Dani is one of the biggest stars of children’s television in BBC history having played the lead role of CBBC’s successful The Story of Tracy Beaker, Tracy Beaker Returns and Dani’s House. She has also starred in many other TV programmes, taken part in Strictly Come Dancing and played various roles on stage including Janet from the Rocky Horror Show and Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. Her versatility and popularity makes her much in demand for panto and this year she is playing the title role in Cinderella, at the Assembly Hall Theatre, Tunbridge Wells. Sammi O’Neill asked her why she enjoyed being in panto so much……
DH: I love it, I have been doing pantomime for twenty years. I am 26 now, I started really young as a juvenile performer and then worked up to be Cinderella and here we are.
SON: Wouldn’t your parents like you home for Christmas – just once?
I think my parents would love to have me home for Christmas but it isn’t going to happen. I have always just wanted to be on the stage, for me without doing pantomime it wouldn’t feel like Christmas at all.
You have an incredibly success career on TV but you also love being on stage, which do you prefer?
I absolutely love both, I like any type of acting at all and would try anything. I am an actress and I am very greedy for any type of challenge. I love playing different characters so I am not fussy. I would love to do more TV, I would love to do film, I would love to do more stage, literally anything.
It is so difficult to say which I prefer. I love to do TV because you do something different everyday so I enjoy the freshness that it brings however I also like doing theatre because the audience gives you an instant reaction which you don’t get on TV. TV and stage are both so different that it is impossible to choose one over the other.
You are playing Cinderella at the Assembly Hall this year. Which other panto roles have you played?
I think I have been in probably every pantomime. When I was younger I played Peter Pan a lot because I am very small, and was easy to make me fly. I have played the fairy, the Princess in Jack and the Beanstalk, Belle in Beauty and the Beast, but I love Cinderella is she really good fun. This is my second year playing her with this company but I played Cinderella a few years ago as well.
Do you play a sassy Cinderella or a typical early Disney Princess Cinderella?
Oh I have to add a bit of feistiness to the role.
Do your younger fans expect that?
I think most people get that I am playing a different role, Cinderella is a lot lovelier and sweeter than Tracy Beaker ever was. I think though it is nice for Cinderella to have a bit of an edge to her, otherwise she is a bit too meek and smiley all the time.
You have played opposite Owen Thompson as your Prince Charming before – what is your relationship like with him?
Oh yes, he is lovely! I’d marry him especially if he continues to wear those tights that he has on 😀
There are real ponies involved in this production – do you get on well with them?
Yes hmmmm the ponies are great! They are a bit smelly but if they don’t get stage fright they are fine. I am sure that we shall have well behaved ones this year.
Are you local to Tunbridge Wells or will you have to travel in and out?
I shall be travelling in and out from South London together with one of the Ugly Sisters. It is not too far so it won’t be too bad and we’ll keep each other company on the journey. It is quite a rarity that I will spend Christmas at home. Most Christmas’ I cannot commute so it is lovely to be somewhere where I can.
I hope that you enjoy yourself in Tunbridge wells, have you been here before?
I am definitely going to try to look around, you are so busy when in pantomime that sometimes you only see the inside of the theatre, but I really want to try.
Cinderella will open at the Assembly Hall Theatre, Tunbridge Wells from