TV star Jodie’s spreading love as Shirley Valentine

Jodie Prenger, Shirley Valentine
Jodie Prenger, Shirley Valentine

Shirley Valentine, Lyceum Theatre, April 24 to 29 {|Sheffield Theatres|click here}

Willy Russell’s heart-warming comedy Shirley Valentine is celebrating its 30th anniversary with a new production starring I’d Do Anything winner Jodie Prenger.

I do think there’s a little bit of Shirley Valentine in every single one of us

Jodie plays Shirley, a Liverpool housewife whose kids have left home. She makes chips and egg for her husband while talking to the wall.

Where has her life disappeared to, she wonders.

Out of the blue, her best friend offers her a trip to Greece for two weeks and she secretly packs her bags, too scared to tell her husband.

She heads for the sun and starts to see the world and herself very differently.

The show premiered in 1986 and the Oscar-nominated film version three years later, starring Pauline Collins and Tom Conti, helped to turn it into a national treasure.

The stage show is a one-woman performance that allows Jodie to show the down-to-earth nature that she shares with Shirley.

Jodie is of course best known for winning the role of Nancy in the West End production of Oliver! through the BBC television series I’d Do Anything.

That role was a huge success fior her and launched her on a career of WestEnd theatre stardom.

She won the 2010 WhatsOnStage award for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical for her performance as Nancy.

Most recently, Jodie has toured the UK in the classic musical Tell Me On A Sunday.

She also played the title role in the national tour of the Wild West musical Calamity Jane and has starred in the knockabout comedy One Man, Two Guvnors, both in the West End and on tour.

She also stole the show as Lady of the Lake in Spamalot, the musical adaptation of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, a comic retelling of the King Arthur mnyth.

Jodie has also become a regular presenter on BBC Radio 2, guesting for for both Paul O’Grady and Elaine Paige on their shows.

Her TV roles include appearing in Waterloo Road, Hustle, Candy Cabs and Wizards vs Aliens.

Originally from Blackpool, she performed extensively on the cabaret and musical circuit before winning stardom.

She said: “I do think there’s a little bit of Shirley Valentine in every single one of us and that’s what Willy Russell has mastered.

“You can tell by the audience because whether they’re male or female, they 
all have some kind of 
familiarity with it.”

Willy Russell is one of the country’s most celebrated playwrights.

His hit plays such as Educating Rita, Blood Brothers and Our Day Out are constantly being performed around the world.

He said: “When producer Adam Spiegel introduced me to Jodie Prenger I knew in an instant that here was a formidable actress, one who possessed the grit and the warmth, the drive and the vulnerability, the energy and the heart to make Shirley Valentine really live again.”

Jodie admitted that she was overwhelmed with Willy Russell’s comments.

She added: “It’s the most bizarre thing, you still pinch yourself.

“He’s just the most grounded, loveliest man.

“It’s very humbling.”