Liz McClarnon is a woman of many talents. Singer, actor, chef, soon to be author and this Christmas at the Empire Theatre in Liverpool she is going to give it a go as being the best Cinderella possible.

Her fellow Atomic Kitten singing partner Natasha Hamilton trod the boards of the Empire a couple of years ago in the excellent Peter Pan and now Liz follows in her shoes by showing the Ugly Sisters a thing or two in the much loved and oldest pantomime. Liz McLarnon comes from Liverpool and is a very proud Scouser but due to work commitments lives in London. Whilst Liz was in Liverpool trying on some of the beautiful dresses she will be wearing for her part in this year’s panto, I was able to catch up with her and talk about the panto and some of the aspects of her life.

What’s it like to be doing panto in Liverpool?

“I’ve not had Christmas at home in Liverpool for twelve years probably because of work.  I live in London now.  I have to live there really because I do a lot of television shows there.  That’s just the way it is. I’ve never had the opportunity to work at home at Christmas time so I had to say yes straightaway.”

Was one of the draws was that Natasha Hamilton played here a few years ago?

“No it wasn’t about that really, it was about family and I wanted to be a princess as well!  I really do!  I want to be a princess!  Natasha’s actually in Cinderella in Southport.  She rang me up and said: “Oh my God, have you heard?”  I knew about mine first and she then said I’m doing Cinderella!  She did Peter Pan a few years ago here.  She’s a brilliant performer.”

What have you been doing recently?

“I’ve just finished a two part tour of Legally Blonde and I played Paulette and I was made up because all the reviews I got were great.  Because for me I know when I’ve done singing with Atomic Kitten, my role in the band was always the soft harmonies starting and ending the songs.  Natasha was always the belter!   Doing Legally Blonde, every review I got was like “Oh my God, no-one ever knew she had a set of lungs!”  I had to belt out the notes at the end, which were just over the top, huge big long notes, it took some getting used to but I did it and I was made up. Legally Blonde was great!”

“I’ve just finished a film which is a British film but that isn’t out until next year and I’ve just finished a documentary for Channel  5, there’s loads of stuff!  I’m keeping up with the cooking; we’re just in talks with a television cooking show.  I won Masterchef and I’ve still got a cookbook on the cards and I’ve got a novel coming out as well!  I’ve been writing it for a bit and I’ve been doing work for big companies like Cathedral City because of the Masterchef stuff.  I do recipes for them and I do stuff for British Pork, John Smith’s tuna and all these different people and I do that and I have to concentrate on the recipes and then go and do my performing!”  

“I went to my Auntie’s for a cuppa before I came here today and she said: “What are you doing today, queen?”  I’m in performing mode today!  I’ve had to put the novel back a bit because they wanted me to do it a bit closer to home but I wanted to do it under a pseudonym but they want me to do it under my real name and because they want me to do this, they want it more similar to my life.  It’s not going to be a tell-all – I’m only 31, most of the things haven’t happened yet.  I’ve got this great idea for this book – so it’s about a quarter of the way, so I’ve still got a long way to go.”

Now you are back in Liverpool, has it changed much for you?

“For me, it’s not changed that much.  The only thing I would say is that where I’m from has changed a lot.  I’m from Garston and it’s really changed.  It’s a lot quieter than it used to be.  As a kid, it was bustling, it was a crazy, busy place and I knew everyone.  Now I’ve only got a few family in Garston and some in Woolton, a few have moved around.  Really for me, the city centre, apart from the roads being a bit more complicated,  we’ve got some cracking buildings but then we’ve always had great architecture, it’s just looks a bit more modern.  It’s as funny and as friendly as it has ever been.”

How has Liverpool’s music changed for you?

“The only thing that’s changed is that the recognition of music has become more spread out through the generations.  When we started it was just Cilla (Black) and The Beatles but now you’ve got The Zutons and the lass from Girls Aloud.  There’s always someone in each generation of music from Liverpool, whereas with us, we were there and then there was a big gap.  We rolled it on a bit.  The bands that came after us have very different sounds.  I get worried that people say it’s a guitar city; it’s actually just a live music city.  We were making music written by someone from the city, it was produced by a guy from the city,  We were still making the music and I think what’s really strange though is that we’re the last band to have a number one from Liverpool.  It’s been ten years! I think I like that!  Someone told me it was in a national newspaper.”

How does it feel to be doing Panto here?

“I got teased by my friends – I’m doing Cinderella – oh what part are you doing – an Ugly Sister?  That’s good banter!  It’s great on a funny note; I did think it might have something to do with Prince William!  I love the idea of playing here in my home city.  When I did Legally Blonde which started at The Empire, I was offstage for about 20 minutes at the start – we love your own, we champion our own and the roar when I came out onstage – I’m glad to say I was good in the show but I think I could have said “hiya!” and people would have yelled “she’s from Liverpool!” So the roar – I loved that so much!” 

“I’ve got a big connection with The Empire as I did my work experience here when I was a kid.  I worked backstage and front of house.  There are people still here from that time, all the front of house and the backstage crew.  I know a lot of people here so it’s not just being home it’s being here as well.   I’m a little bit nervous; it’s still essentially a musical but still something new!”

Liz McClarnon will be at the Empire Theatre this Christmas period as Cinderella. Tickets are available for from the Empire Theatre Box office.

Ian D. Hall