Faye Tozer talks family, work and health ahead of appearance as The Wicked Queen in Snow White
Faye Tozer has enjoyed an extensive career. Not only as part of award-winning pop group Steps but also in theatre, starring to great acclaim in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s one-woman musical Tell Me On A Sunday and Singin’ in the Rain. She also narrowly missed out on winning the coveted glitter ball trophy on Strictly Come Dancing.
This Christmas she will be bringing some sparkle to Nottingham at the Theatre Royal where she will play The Wicked Queen in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
I caught up with her at the launch. Dressed in character at 10 am in the morning, Faye looks incredible. We’re pretty much the same age (47), but I’m already on my fourth coffee to keep me going. So what's her secret?
“I think I'm very similar to my dad, actually, my dad is like Tigger. You know, he's still bouncing around and I think it's something about keeping busy. I think I’m naturally Skippy. I don't know, but I'm very much like my dad.
Like me, Faye is divorced. Any similarities stop there as she remarried, to second husband Michael Smith with whom she shares her son Benjamin. Will they be joining her in Nottingham?
“Not with me, no, but they will be coming to see the show. And yeah, they will stay with me for a couple of weekends. Ben will be at school and Michael will be at work, but when they get the chance they'll definitely be down. It's quite lovely that it's (Nottingham) right in between my northern family and my Southern family. So no excuses, everyone has to come to me.
As we speak of family, I ask her about her Mum Dorothy. Only a couple of weeks before Faye penned a tribute to her “wonderful” mum who passed away in August from Cancer. Faye continued to tour with Steps and complete the #steps25 celebrations before making the announcement.
“She was the one that put me on the stage and thoroughly enjoyed everything that I did. And was so proud of it. So I kept myself working and kept myself busy because I think that's what she would have wanted. And it's also a wonderful distraction, and she would have been really proud.
Mum went through breast cancer in 2018. She then went on to have lung cancer. Two years later, she had the all clear they were really pleased with her and she was stable. I ask if she’s OK talking about it and explain I’m a cancer survivor.
“I don't mind talking about it because both me and mum did discuss it.”
I ask if it’s made her more aware herself.
“Absolutely. I'm like, check your boobs. And it's just being physically aware of your own body. And all changes like that. Now I’m getting a bit older, you know, you need to watch out for yourself and keep healthy to a certain extent, you know, and it's really important to talk about it. Make sure that we are openly talking about changes in our bodies because that's how you find things quickly, then they can be dealt with and that's the whole thing moving forward. You know, we've got so much amazing technology and the cures that we've got for the moment if they are caught quick enough.”
So has it changed her perspective on life?
“For sure. It gives you a different perspective on life. Life is short and you have no idea what's going to happen. So you need to live every day as much as you can.’
Faye definitely seems to be doing that. She's a busy lady, working non-stop between now and the start of panto.
“I find it difficult to say no, to be honest. It's been really interesting times, you know, through the pandemic, and I think when we were able to get back on the stage again, and the phone rang, I said yes to everything. It was so exciting to be able to go out and perform again live because we did a lot of things sort of remotely and from our homes and what have you, but there's nothing that beats live theatre and live performances. It's just a totally different energy and way of working and I absolutely love it.
Does she think the pandemic changed audiences?
“That's an interesting question. I feel like from what I've experienced because I was doing Singing in the Rain in the South. When we opened last summer, that was brand new. There weren't many theatres opening and it was still tricky times. But I think everyone's so grateful to be there. And I think as an audience member going to see different productions you know, we bounce out of our chairs and we give a roaring applause for everyone there just because it is joyful to be back’
Having said she’d been in panto since she was little, I ask if she remembers the first panto she saw?
“I was in a panto before I saw it. In fact, I haven't really seen that many pantos, but I was six years old as a little dancer in Luton and my celebrity was Davy Jones from the Monkees and I sat on his knee as he sang Daydream Believer. That was cute. And yeah, I just thoroughly enjoyed it. I don't really remember many Christmases without panto. It’s kind of in the blood. I kind of feel a bit lost if I don't do it.
Faye has been quoted as being insecure deep down and that she’d only been picked to be in the band to ‘tick some kind of pretty Barbie-girl box. I ask how she sees herself now. Faye from Steps or Faye the musical theatre actress?
“Oh, I think it's pretty much 50/50 Isn't it? I think Faye from Steps will always be with me. And I like that. It's my alternative surname. But, you know I've had probably an equal time on stage treading the boards, doing musicals and plays and what have you. So yeah, half and half”
Do you prefer playing the baddie in panto?
“Yeah, it's nice to do something polar opposite to what people expect of you or how they usually perceive you. So it's really fun to get your teeth into being nasty. I mean, obviously, I'm going to enjoy being the queen, we've got the amazing Joe. Pasquale. When I got the first phone call saying would you like to join Joe in Nottingham, I jumped at the chance. He is a legend. He is going to be lighting up the stage and lighting up my experience of this panto because he's just so sweet, but so off the cuff and you never know what's gonna happen with him. So he's gonna keep us all on our toes. And I think every show is gonna be different because of the way he is and so I'm excited about that. But I think I'm really excited about getting families together, to come down and have something really really fun, escapism and to have a really fun interactive show. You can bring the tiny little ones because they are allowed to scream and boo and fidget and do whatever they want and have a nice happy experience. So come down and see us.
Faye is appearing in SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS
at the Theatre Royal Nottingham
Saturday 3 December 2022 to Sunday 8 January 2023
For performance times, please visit the venue website www.trch.co.uk
£21.50 – £42 plus discounts for Royal Members*, Under 26s, Families, Groups and Schools
www.trch.co.uk Box Office 0115 989 5555
Sign Language Interpreted: Thursday 15 December 2022 1.30pm, Sunday 18 December 2022 1.30pm, and Friday 6 January 2023 7.15pm
Audio Described: Saturday 17 December 2022 2.30pm, and Sunday 8 January 2023 1.30pm
Relaxed Performance: Wednesday 4 January 2023 2.30pm
Captioned: Saturday 7 January 2023 2.30pm
*Theatre Royal & Royal Concert Hall Nottingham Royal Membership scheme offers benefits including ticket discounts and exclusive pre-sales. For more information please visit www.trch.co.uk/membership