EastEnders star on dream role as Miss Scarlett in Cluedo heading to Norwich
- Credit: Supplied by Neil Reading PR
"We all need a bit of glamour in our lives, don’t we darling?" says Michelle Collins, ahead of Cluedo heading to Norwich Theatre Royal.
The glamour in question comes in a role she has dreamed about since she was just a little girl, that of Miss Scarlett.
She is the most glamorous and potentially most deadly member of the cast of Cluedo, the new play based on the film Clue and, originally of course, the murderous board game that Michelle was obsessed with as a child.
"We all wanted to be Miss Scarlett," says Michelle, a full-scale national treasure in waiting - well, she’s only 59, way too young for that honour – famous for parts in EastEnders, where she played Cindy Beale for a total of eight years, and then Stella Price in Coronation Street.
Though she’s also been in everything from Doctor Who through Casualty (several times) to Sunburn and Two Thousand Acres of Sky.
"Miss Scarlett is one of the most iconic characters, along with Colonel Mustard and Professor Plum maybe, (played by Daniel Casey of Midsomer Murders fame) which makes it more difficult to play.
"Me and my sister would go and stay with my five cousins and we would all fight for that part but because I’m the bossy one, I would always get it." She laughs. "And I think because of lockdown people have gone back to board games, just to be together really."
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It may sound a bit of a strange concept, a play based on a film based on a board game but to Michelle it makes perfect sense.
"I’ve done a Miss Marple and everyone loves those", she goes on. "And it’s great to dress up in period clothes, 40s clothes. So glamorous! And we are in the hands of the perfect director in Mark Bell."
He did the smash hits The Play That Goes Wrong and A Comedy about A Bank Robbery.
As for her character… "I’ll have to have my own take on her but it’s really exciting to play someone who, like most women, has more going on than you see on the surface.
"She has a history. She’s very smart, looks glam and dressed up but she’s the smart cookie."
The fact that this is the British premiere of a play that has been a smash hit in the States makes it even more exciting, says Michelle. "And it’s kind of nice that it’s not all on me, it’s an ensemble piece.
"I think people are really excited to be getting back to some kind of normality."
And normality is something Michelle is definitely looking forward to after her "real rubbish year." "My mum died" she says, when you ask how bad things have been.
"And a really good friend of mine died of Covid and I was quite ill for a while. It’s been horrible.
"My mum was fine during Covid but she had cancer and couldn’t have her immunotherapy treatment through lockdown: she was on a trial and it was really keeping her going.
"But I feel like she’s giving me her blessing because she always knew I was happiest when I was working. She would want me to push forward."
The last time Michelle went out on a major tour like this one was in the musical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang when her 25-year-old daughter was just a child.
"And I’ve actually got friends in most of the places we’re visiting, so it will be fun to see them."
So, is Miss Scarlett the one to watch? "Well, you’ll just have to come along and find out, won’t you?" she laughs.
Cluedo runs from February 7 to 12 - book tickets at norwichtheatre.org or call 01603 630000.