Letitia Dean – Queen of Mean

Letitia Dean strides across the room, her long, blonde tresses striking a dramatic contrast with her black ensemble of tunic, leggings and high-heeled boots.

 “My feet are killing me in these boots!” she laughs as she sits down beside me, “but I’m five foot three, I need the heels to add height!”

 Showing a human touch tinged with humour, it’s clear that there’s plenty of personality packed into that petite frame. From the landlady of the Queen Vic to the Wicked Queen in Snow White, Letitia relishes the challenge of a feisty female role.

 After playing the part of the sweet, innocent heroine in numerous pantomimes over the years, she’s glad to get her teeth into the meatier role of the wicked stepmother.

 “It’s a great part – being a right old moaning hag, I love it!” laughs Letitia.

 “My opening line is: ‘Greetings, low life – bow down and grovel!’ This must be the only job you can do where you actually want to get booed!

 “I’ve played Snow White in the past, but really I’m a bit too feisty for that part and it’s more fun to play the wicked one.”

 While she is best known for her TV role as Sharon Watts from East Enders, Letitia  has the theatre in her blood. She trained at the Italia Conti Theatre School in London, and has performed in West End productions since her teens.

 She loves the panto tradition and Snow White is one of her particular favourites.

  “It’s magical for the children, for some of them it will be their first time at the theatre, and it’s wonderful to see their little faces light up,” she says. 

 “It’s also fun for the adults in the audience, who can sometimes be a bit cheeky.  If I get heckled, I can just turn round, shake my cape and tell them to shut up!”

 As the wicked queen, Letitia gets to play to the audience, set the pace of key scenes, and sing a solo she describes as “a sassy, ballsy number.”

  “I used to have quite a high voice but I have a much deeper register now – must be all that shouting in the Queen Vic!” she jokes.

 The pantomime also stars her brother, Stephen: a tall, handsome blond who is perfect for the part of the prince.

 “We’ve done quite a few pantos together, we always make each other giggle!” confesses Letitia. “I’m terrible like that, I was the same in East Enders, sometimes we got through loads of takes because I was laughing too much!”

 She still gets recognised for her long-running role in East Enders.

 “The show is on cable and often repeated,” she remarks. “I’ve seen it with subtitles in Spain and in America I think it has subtitles too, because of the East End accents!”

 Since leaving the series, she has returned twice,  from 2001-04 and again in 2005-06 – so is there any chance of Sharon putting in another appearance?

 “It’s been a while since I was there, but I still watch it now and again and if there was a chance to go back, I would certainly consider it,” says Letitia. “Never say never!” 

 She has also been following Strictly Come Dancing after appearing on the BBC show two years ago, when she reached the quarter final with her dance partner Darren Bennett.

 “I remember the tango having particularly complicated footwork,” she recalls. “Some of it was quite exhausting!

 “I love the show, I have a few friends who are in it,” she adds. “They’re all very good.”  

Commuting from the West End for her busy schedule, which includes performances on Christmas Eve and Boxing Day, Letitia plans to spend a  quiet Christmas at  home, with her little dog Albie – a cross between a Yorkshire Terrier and a Chihuahua.

 “On Christmas Day I think I will be lounging around in my pyjamas having a good rest – I will need my beauty sleep!” she smiles.

 From Wicked Stepmother to Sleeping Beauty – it’s all in a day’s work for this small but sassy blonde.

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~ by A_A on December 21, 2009.

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