Richmond resident Jerry Hall is starring is making her panto debut at Richmond Theatre this Christmas. Taking on the role of the Wicked Queen in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs , she is relishing the opportunity to embrace her inner diva. Words: Will Gore
The bad characters always gets the best lines,’ says Jerry Hall, with an appropriately over the top cackle. I’m joining her at Richmond Theatre a few weeks before she starts rehearsals for her pantomime debut and it’s clear she’s relishing the prospect of playing the Wicked Queen in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
‘She is incredibly beautiful and vain, so it will be a big stretch for me,’ she tells me, laughing again. ‘I’m hoping to get a good booing and then I know I’ll be doing it right. I have been very inspired by Angelina Jolie’s Maleficent and I get to wear the same horns.’
Although rising to fame as a model, Jerry, now 58, has done plenty of acting work over the years on both stage and screen. Is the Wicked Queen the nastiest character she’s ever been asked to portray, I ask. She initially proffers Mrs Robinson, who she played in the West End, as the most villainous of all her roles, before settling on her pantomime baddie: ‘Sleeping with your daughter’s boyfriend as Mrs Robinson does is pretty bad. Although murdering your step-daughter, is probably worse − I’ve never played a murderer before.’
Before meeting Jerry, I feared she might be a little intimidating, a presumption I put down to a personal fear of supermodel-divas. She assures me that I, and anyone else with that idea, has got her wrong – although she might look the part of the Wicked Queen with her statuesque frame and striking features, she doesn’t think that people are intimidated by her in everyday life. ‘I don’t know,’ she says, ‘I’m not sure people think I’m severe, so I’m going to have work on that for the show.’
One thing you can say for definite about her is that she isn’t afraid to laugh at herself, which is just as well considering she’s about to spend five weeks doing panto. She follows up that initial joke about her vanity with a crack about how her ‘fabulous’ outfits for the show ‘make her look like a drag queen’. And she is bracing herself for plenty of Rolling Stones gags to be thrown her way in reference to her famous marriage to ex-husband Mick Jagger.
The pair set up their family home in a magnificent house on Richmond Hill more than 20 years ago. Jerry still lives there and it continues to provide a base for her and Mick’s four grown-up children. She says the minute she moved to Richmond she decided she never wanted to live anywhere else and talks with great reverence for ‘magical’ Richmond Park and the regular walks she takes by the river. She also, no surprise perhaps, loves the shops, name-checking Matches as her favourite.
Although their marriage was annulled in 1999, Jerry and Mick have remained on friendly terms. She says he will be there at Richmond Theatre on Snow White’s opening night, and deserves credit for first introducing her to the very British delights of pantomime. The Texan, who moved to the UK in the 1970s, had never experienced anything like it. ‘Mick was all excited to show me what it is like,’ she says. ‘When he took me to my first one I just loved it.’
Jerry and Mick made it an annual family tradition to take their children to the pantomime at Richmond Theatre, but she says it is only now that she has been able to fulfil her desire to perform in one. ‘I’ve been asked to be in the pantomime here many times,’ she says, ‘but when the kids were younger it was impossible to get away during the Christmas holidays. Now my youngest is 16 so I have finally been able to say yes.’
As well as experiencing panto for the first time from the stage, the chance to enjoy an extended run at one of her favourite theatres, which she is also a patron of, was another very good reason for agreeing to take up the Wicked Queen’s crown. ‘Richmond Theatre is such a beautiful place that has been superbly restored and looked after,’ she says, ‘and if it snows the Green will just be beautiful. I love a white Christmas.’
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at Richmond Theatre from 5 Dec 2014-11 Jan 2015 atgtickets.com/richmond