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York's very own pantomime princess

Suzy Cooper in York Theatre Royal's pantomime
Despite hating pantomime as a child, Suzy loves appearing in York

Suzy Cooper has a job and a half on her hands every Christmas as she appears alongside Berwick Kaler, Martin Barrass and David Leonard in pantomime at York's Theatre Royal. It's a tough job keeping those three in line.

She's been appearing in the York Theatre Royal pantomimes for 17 years, only missing a couple, much to Berwick's consternation, when she had television filming commitments and then again when she had her son.

Suzy originally trained as a dancer:

"I went to a dance college when I was very young. I was 16. In those days you had to earn your ticket and get your Equity card and I actually worked on a cruise ship for nine months and I also did some club singing. I can't even remember where now, but it was somewhere in the North! That's how I got my Equity card."

After her stints on the cruise ship and in the clubs, Suzy went home to Hertfordshire, where an accident changed her life:

"I had a car accident which, strange as it may seem, brought me fortune. I broke my arm very badly and the surgeon told me I wouldn't be able to completely straighten my arm again." "It made me rethink what I really wanted to do and I realised I wanted to be an actor and not a dancer.

Suzy Cooper
Suzy originally trained as a dancer and an accident made her turn to acting

"I think I was a good dancer but didn't have the right mentality. I always got to an audition really early and found myself in the back line within the first 10 minutes. I just didn't have that aggressive streak you need and I don't mean that in a negative way."

An acting job turned up very quickly when Suzy was invited to a casting for Michael Frayn's Noises Off at the Thorndike Theatre in Leatherhead. She made quite an impression when she turned up for the auditions:

"I think I must have learnt the whole play before I went for the audition and I got the part.

"I knew every single word on the first day of rehearsals, as a friend I made on that first job reminds me regularly!"

After that first acting job a major TV role soon followed. She appeared in BskyB's futuristic soap opera Jupiter Moon. They filmed 150 episodes in a year, turning out three programmes a week, long before the other soaps did the same.

As a child she was terrified of pantomimes and only went once, so how did she end up in pantomime in York?

"I got a call from my agent saying someone's dropped out of the Theatre Royal pantomime, do you want to do it? I was working in a shoe shop so I thought I'm just going to go for it.

"I went and met Berwick and I think I fell in love with him a little bit, but nobody else wanted me! The choreographer said 'you can't have her'. I chose an incredibly complicated song to sing, I messed it up three times and it was awful, but Berwick saw something in me and here I am 17 years later!"

She can also turn her hand to the more serious and darker side of theatre, having performed with Howard Barker's company, Wrestling School, to great acclaim.

Suzy's first pantomime in York was Jack and the Beanstalk and she played Jill, but what's her favourite?

"Cinderella! I wish we could do Cinderella every year, I love that show, it's magical."

Suzy is appearing in Humpty Dumpty at York Theatre Royal from 10 December 2009 to 30 January 2010. Visit the theatre's website for more information.



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