FORMER Coronation Street bad boy Andrew Lancel, who played evil Frank Foster in the soap, is all set to stay on the dark side this winter with a role as Carabose – the Wicked Wizard and Master of the Underworld in Sleeping Beauty.
Despite this, Andrew, who won this year’s British Soap Awards Villain of the Year, doesn’t believe he is now typecast in roles as ‘baddies’.
“There was a lot of choice for me after leaving such a high-profile show like Corrie, but what I wanted to do most was spend time with my wife and son,” he said. “So I was delighted to be asked to play Brian Epstein in Liverpool.” Epstein is a play about the life of the Beatles manager, who is one of the city’s most loved sons and will open at the newly-named Epstein Theatre (formerly the Neptune) from November 15 until December 1.
“Rehearsing has been great fun, although very tiring, but it’s just great to be so close to home, as I’ve been working away for 10 years,” said Andrew. As Epstein finishes, Sleeping Beauty begins, forming part of the Liverpool Christmas Family Festival. Situated on the Kings Dock site, the festival will transform the area into a Christmas extravaganza – all located on the one site. Visitors to the pantomime will receive free entrance to the festival.
“I love the Summer Pops and I see this as being a kind of Christmas Pops – there will be a traditional funfair, festive entertainers, Santa’s Grotto, stalls, carol singers – there’s a huge buzz about it.
“It will be a real festival atmosphere. I love Christmas anyway, so it’s perfect for me. It’s a gruelling schedule and it can take it out of you, so you need to eat well, and stay fit... with perhaps the odd glass of wine at the end of the evening.”
Other stars set to appear in the show include actor Jonathon Morris (best known for his role as Adrian Boswell in the sitcom Bread) and open-audition winner Gemma Brodrick starring as Princess Beauty.
With so much on his plate, Andrew has not considered what he’ll do next, although his dream roles are in musical theatre – in Fiddler on the Roof or Barnum.
“I have played some controversial roles, especially as Frank, and I tried to make him as believable as possible. But it’s different playing a panto baddie – I’m looking forward to all the boos and, of course, twiddling that moustache.”
Sleeping Beauty starts on December 14 and runs until January 6. To book tickets, visit echoarena.com or call the Echo Arena Box Office on 0844 8000 400.