There's A Willcox There's A Way...
Toyah Willcox made a new year resolution in 2009
to be a queen she got her wish granted
And she begins next year as she finishes this
one, beneath a brash crown as the Wicked Queen in
Sheffield's biggest panto, Snow White And The
"I love it. I haven't stopped laughing. My
voice is tired from laughing," says the '80s
pop-star- turned-actress of her regal role.
"Playing the Queen means that no matter what
mood I'm in, whether I decide to play her
sweetly, play her nastily, or predictably, it
works because the audience knows she's bad which
means no matter what I give them they will see me
as a bad person."
While being in panto right up until Christmas Eve
meant a mad dash back to her home in
Worcestershire to be with family, Toyah is
enjoying working in one of the country's most
"remarkable, versatile, quickly- changing
Her character is in stark contrast to some of her
previous roles in the likes of British comedy
film The Power Of Three and Secret Diary Of A
Call Girl, in which she played Billie Piper's
When Snow White concludes at The Lyceum Theatre
on January 10 she will return to her Devil Queen
spot in the touring theatre musical Vampires
Toyah is still making and performing music of her
own, under her name and with her band The Humans,
which features Bill Rieflin from REM and her
husband Robert Fripp, formerly of the iconic band
King Crimson. They released an album late summer
while Toyah's put out In The Court Of The Crimson
Queen, a tongue-in-cheek reference to Fripp's
album In The Court Of The Crimson King.
Snow White the singer, who made her name with 15
top 40 singles and gold and platinum albums led
by iconic hits such as It's A Mystery, joins a
cast that includes Sheffield comedian / radio
presenter Toby Foster and top dame Damian
"I really believe people who do panto should
only do it because they respect the genre,
otherwise you're watching something very
cynical," she says.
"Panto is about family, it's about the fight
between good and evil, it's about representing to
children not only the power of theatre and the
magic of live performance but also what family
and Christmas is about.
"Christmas should be about encompassing
every culture but the values are in the family
unit. Not everyone has children but we have
parents, grandparents and all of that. When I
look out there and see the audience I see groups
of elderly people who are coming to watch
something that makes them remember their
childhood; I see three generations of a family.
Panto is about embracing this wonderful season of
positiveness that celebrates birth, so for me
it's something I take incredibly seriously."
Not to mention the responsibility of lifting
audiences after the Boxing Day lull.
"Luckily I have never been in a cynical
panto which is 'grab the money and run'. I really
respect theatres who don't just do it as some
horrible commercial thing to promote another
is a genre that is utterly special and only in
Of course, it is a far cry from Toyah's pop music
heyday, although she is still in demand in that
"I never thought when I did Top Of The Pops
that when I was 51 I would be doing panto. Then I
never expected I'd be opening a festival to
30,000 people or be an award-nominated
"When I was doing TOTP that's all that
existed for me. I never thought beyond the age of
30, so everything I have done since has been a
total surprise. My life is very colourful and
"You have other dreams but you learn to let
go of them, but if you let go of your childhood
dreams they come back to you eventually but also
other unique things can come in. If you live with
these youthful ambitions they eat you alive.
They're right to get you started but then you
need to let go of it to let other extraordinary
"When I was 20 I wanted world domination, I
wanted only to play arenas, to win an Oscar.
"That will only happen by some happy
accident or because I'm willing enough to try new
things. If all you think about is winning the
Oscar you're not going to get there because
you've got to find different paths to your
destination all the time. So I'm one of these
people that will take a tangent at a drop of a
pin. Very little of what I do is planned."
As well as touring her music alongside other '80s
artists around the nation's castles, arenas and
stately homes, she has presented a Tonight
programme about insomnia, appeared on Mastermind,
penned two books and appeared in 10 feature films
and 30 stage plays.
One thing Toyah is clear about is where her
acting ambitions lie. "I have no intention
to play a goody unless they pay me a lot of
money," she laughs. "They really are
dull and I don't do it convincingly."
1st January 2010