Faye Tozer: taking Steps into Nottingham panto

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Faye Tozer always wanted to appear in musical theatre. She’s fulfilled her wish and is getting to play some of the best roles in the genre. She just had to wait a while after her pop career took her in a slightly different direction.

Faye is a member of the group Steps who have sold a staggering 22 million records worldwide and are the first British, mixed-gender group to achieve four number one albums in four different decades.

They have just celebrated their 25th anniversary with a string of shows and the release of their third greatest hits album, meaning that Faye has been incredibly busy for the past three years.

She came to Nottingham when the Theatre Royal unveiled the cast of this year’s panto Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs. She will play the Wicked Queen. But before concentrating on that, she had a final gig for this year with Steps in Birmingham, then she was off to Toronto to reprise her role as the vain, spoiled, and talentless star of silent films Lina Lamont in the musical Singin’ In The Rain.

Faye Tozer in Singin’ in the Rain [image: Johan Persson]

She says the stage adaptation of the film is “just wonderful. I did my first performance as Lina in 2014 and went on tour for six months, so I know the show very well.

“I was invited back as Lina at Sadler’s Wells for a month last year and then they invited me to do this year’s tour. But Steps was already happening, so I could do only part of it.

“It’s nice to be asked back. It’s such an amazing role. The costumes, the one-liners, the comedy, the dancing – it’s so beautiful. I can’t wait to get back.”

Many people know Faye from her stint in Steps alongside Lee Latchford-Evans, Claire Richards, Lisa Scott-Lee and Ian “H” Watkins. Their biggest-selling single was their first UK number one, a double A-side of the ballad Heartbeat and their cover of the Bee Gees’ Tragedy.

Faye admits she didn’t think Steps would still be going a quarter of a century after they started.

“You couldn’t write it, could you? Twenty-five years later we’re still doing ‘5,6,7,8’. We’ve had seven incredible original albums. We’re very proud of the last three because we were very instrumental in picking what was on there. We’re very loyal to it (the group) and it brings a lot of joy to a lot of people.

“I think it brings us a lot of joy these days as well. It was the escapism we all needed when it was a trying time. It’s been a blessing.”

Faye Louise Tozer was born in Northampton on 14 November 1975. She went to a dance school where she achieved advanced qualifications in all aspects of dance including ballet, tap and modern.

“I was a showgirl doing casinos and things like that which was very exciting as a 19-year-old, leaving school and travelling the world. But my heart definitely belongs to the theatre and that’s what I wanted to do.

“Steps happened before I got that chance. It’s been a long way round but I’ve been doing musicals for about 20 years now. I’ve had some amazing roles and I’m so grateful every time I get to do an incredible piece of theatre.

Some of the cast of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: Jamal Crawford (Prince), Faye Tozer (Wicked Queen), Joe Pasquale (Muddles), David Robbins (Dame), Lucy Ireland (Snow White)

“I think it’s the pull of the lights, sitting around in the dressing room, putting make-up on with like-minded people, just spending energy on stage and the applause at the end – it’s a real buzz for me. I absolutely love it. And I quite like the graft of eight shows a week – that’s where my heart is.”

Faye made her professional musical theatre debut in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s one-woman show Tell Me On A Sunday. She also played the lead in The Eva Cassidy Story, appeared in the musical Everybody’s Talking About Jamie in the West End and took on a straight role as Sheila Wendice in Frederick Knott’s thriller Dial M For Murder.

In 2018 she competed in Strictly Come Dancing, finishing joint runner-up with her partner Giovanni Pernice.

She has recently appeared on two television quiz shows, Richard Osman’s House Of Games and Pointless Celebrities in which she was paired with Joe Pasquale. He’ll play Muddles in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. It will be the first time he and Faye have worked together.

“No two performances are exactly the same and it certainly keeps us on our toes because we’re doing two shows a day.”

“When I got the phone call to say would I like to join Joe in Nottingham I jumped at the chance because he’s got such an amazing reputation as a team player and someone who’s really good fun off as well as onstage. He’s a legend. So I said yes straightaway.”

She’s not worried about Joe going off-script and creating a few surprises.

“The more off the cuff it is, everyone gets a really special performance. No two performances are exactly the same and it certainly keeps us on our toes because we’re doing two shows a day.

“It’s a heavy workload but it’s fun for us on stage and it’s fun for the audience. I haven’t worked with Joe yet so there’s a little bit of excitement mixed in with anxiety – I’m joking! I’m really excited.”

This will be the third time that Faye has played the Wicked Queen in Snow White.

“It’s so much more fun than the fairy! I’ve been the fairy godmother a few times but I do find much more joy in being wicked on stage. I think the more you can get the kids to scream at you the better. It’s all about interaction and it’s really fun to do something that I don’t do in my other day job – it’s the polar opposite to what I do.”

The cast of Snow White won’t have seen the script until about a month before rehearsals. There will be all sorts of changes until opening night but Faye is quite relaxed about that.

“Had this been my first panto it would be quite scary. But I’ve been there and done that and I quite enjoy the process.”

That comes from appearing on stage from an early age. She was six when she undertook her first panto role, later playing fairies and goblins. Professionally she’s taken roles as the fairy godmother in Cinderella as well as Scherazade, Princess Balroubadour and the Slave of the Ring in three separate productions of Aladdin.

She’s delighted to be in Nottingham with its central location which means friends and family from both ends of the country will be able to see it.

Faye is married to her second husband, Michael Smith, and has a 13-year-old-son Benjamin. Her family are used to her being away from home.

“There are lots more people working much harder than us who don’t see their children and families.”

“When Benjamin was little he used to come with me and be popped under the dressing room table while I did my make-up. A nanny would put him to bed and I’d join him in the morning. You just make it work.

“There are lots more people working much harder than us who don’t see their children and families.”

After Snow White Faye will be taking a rest: “I need to spend time with my family, my son, my dogs and my friends. It’s the quality time at home that I really miss, so I’m downing tools for a bit. My husband would kill me if I said there was another job coming along.”

So take steps to go to see Faye Tozer in Snow White this Christmas. It’ll be a tragedy if you miss it . . .

  • Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs will at the Theatre Royal, Nottingham from 3 December until 8 January 2023
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