ANNIE Wensak will be playing a range of roles in the ensemble of the Mercury’s forthcoming production of Moll Flanders.

She was in Half A Sixpence in London last year with other recent credits, including Mrs Hoallum in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers for Regent’s Park Open Air, and the pantomime at the London Palladium last Christmas with Julian Clary.

A very loose adaptation of Daniel Defoe’s famous novel, Moll Flanders runs at the Colchester Theatre from September 28 to October 13.

For tickets call the box office on 01206 573948 or click here.

What or who got you interested in theatre? Did you take part in any productions at school?

I went to ballet school from about five years of age and wanted to be a ballerina…but I have quite flat feet so had to change my dreams. I played Bottom in a school production of A Midsummers Night’s Dream and remember thinking I would die in the ass’s head because it was so claustrophobic. Very dramatic.

Are or were any members of your immediate family involved in the theatre?

No, but I have some glorious black and white photographs of my mum playing parts in amateur dramatic productions in the Fifties. My father-in-law was a brilliant amateur actor and given a different life I am sure would have done well professionally.

My brother Pete was a market gardener who grew strawberries and once did an advert with Jamie Oliver for Sainsbury’s, if that counts.

Who is the most inspiring person you’ve worked with and why?

I was in the cast of the Dick Whittington pantomime at the London Palladium last Christmas and Julian Clary was very inspirational. He is such a master of comic timing and double entendre and one of the calmest, professional and thoughtful people I have met.

Also I worked many years ago with Irene Handl and her crazy toothless Chihuahua, what an amazing sense of comedy she had in her later years, on and off the stage.

What formal training have you done?

I trained at Arts Educational on a course that was called the 50/50 Course. This meant we were in between the dancers and the actors and did a bit of everything. I think it’s now more aptly called the Musical Theatre Course.

Do you have any specialist skills – anything from stilt walking to dress-making – which you work into your repertoire?

No, except I do play the spoons a bit.


Annie Wensak in rehearsals for Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Picture: Helen Maybanks

Which experience/role do you regard as the highlight of your career to date?

Gosh. That is a question that is always hard to answer, but I think it must be playing Gloria Deakin in The Stationmaster in 2015, written by Sue Pearse and Tim Connor. What a beautiful piece of writing and what fun we had doing it.

What has been your most embarrassing moment on stage?

I fell over a bar on the floor in Jailhouse Rock at the Piccadilly Theatre and collapsed head first onto the bed I was pushing on to the stage. I did make a funny quip though which I was proud of at the time and this did win me an award for best unscripted line at the end of run party!.

Which actor(s) performer(s) do you most admire and why?

Claire Burt. I think she is so truthful in everything that I have seen her in and she has the warmest singing voice. Rory Kinnear is also one of my favourite actors. I love his sense of truth and the way he makes Shakespeare so easy to understand.

What role would you most like to play and why?

I think I am getting a bit too old for most desirable, sort after roles nowadays but I am enjoying playing older biddies that wear flat comfy shoes.

Ever corpsed on stage? What happened?

To be honest I can’t really remember getting the giggles too badly on stage, it's normally in rehearsals when I can totally lose it, usually at my own mistakes and inadequacies.

Any big plans for the future?

Learning the ukulele. I have joined a local group and I absolutely love playing it.

Any tricks for remembering your lines or other useful tips to pass on to other actors/directors?

I walk our dog for hours in Epping Forest and practise lines and songs where hopefully no one can hear me. The dog is really happy and I find learning lines easier on the move.