Liz McClarnon looks forward to Elf the Musical at the Lowry

PUBLISHED: 11:17 06 November 2017

Liz prepares for her role in Elf the Musical @ The Lowry Theatre

Credit: Nathan Cox

Liz prepares for her role in Elf the Musical @ The Lowry Theatre Credit: Nathan Cox

Copyright:Nathan Cox/The Lowry. No reproduction or storage without written permission from Nathan Cox Photography.

Ben Hanson chats to Liz McClarnon about her upcoming role in Elf, The Musical.

Elf the Musical
Credit: Alastair MuirElf the Musical Credit: Alastair Muir

A confession: I don’t really have any Christmas traditions. My wife, on the other hand, is Christmas personified. The minute the Halloween haunts are over, she’s itching to bring out the baubles, stick some mulled wine on the stove and put the 2003 movie Elf on a regular rotation. In case you’ve somehow missed it, the film tells the story of Buddy, a human orphan who’s accidentally raised as one of Santa’s elves. Buddy travels to New York to search for his father and, with the help of some other colourful characters, ends up bringing Christmas joy to a lot of jaded Manhattan-ites.

I have a feeling my wife would get along swimmingly with Liz McClarnon, the former Atomic Kitten singer who will play female lead Jovie in a musical adaptation of Elf this winter, and who’s definitely no stranger to routines designed around ol’ Saint Nick.

‘I grew up in a large family, and we always had strong traditions,’ Liz told me when we spoke, in unseasonably sunny mid-October. ‘For as long as I could remember we’d all open our presents at home, then head to my great grandmother’s house for dinner. It got very old-school then: the women would chat away in the house, drinking egg nog, and the men would walk across the road to the pub. When she passed away, at 102, we strove to make our own traditions in my immediate family, so now it’s a bit of Buck’s Fizz in the morning, opening presents, and then we start cooking!’

If there’s something for everyone in Liz’s Christmas plans, the same can be said of the show – which will celebrate its first festive season outside Broadway or the West End with a seasonal stint at The Lowry. ‘On the surface it looks like it’s purely for kids, but there are so many jokes that fly over their heads and leave adults chuckling away.’

Despite an enduring love for the film itself, Elf was a show that Liz very nearly did not get to see from either side of the stage. ‘It was on in the West End two Christmases ago, and even though I had friends in the cast, my own work stopped me from getting to the theatre,’ she says. ‘So when the offer came through after some hard-fought open auditions, I realised I’d be playing in something I loved but I’d never actually seen performed.’

I think Liz can be forgiven for missing that particular production, given her workload. If 15 top ten singles and 10 million global record sales with her bandmates weren’t enough to keep her busy, she also writes and performs solo, won Celebrity MasterChef, cooks with restaurants across the country and has toured with shows like Shout!, Legally Blonde and War of the Worlds.

‘I don’t think I’d get bored if I had to pick one medium, but I definitely appreciate not having to do the same thing every day, because it keeps your conversations fresh,’ Liz laughs.

‘What are you doing tomorrow? Well, I might be going into the studio, or I might have a rehearsal for a musical, or I might need to print some recipes, or get my outfit together for a TV show. Some people think it’s mad, but I see variety as a good thing, and I absolutely love it.’

For all her international success, Liz remains a Liverpool girl at heart. ‘I’m so excited to be bringing Elf to the Northwest. It’s such a big show, with so many amazing elements for everyone. And I know people from around our way like to champion their own, but tickets really are selling so fast!’

Sounds as though anyone aiming for a new Christmas tradition might need to get their skates on.

Elf the Musical will run at The Lowry for seven weeks from 24th November.

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