“The best thing about performing in Aylesbury is that I get to go home every night, which for a woman of a certain age is very appealing!”
So says Wendi Peters, who starred in a national tour of Grumpy Old Women (about the ups and downs of middle age) in 2009 and who can now be seen in Oh What A Lovely War at the Waterside Theatre from April 28 to May 2.
The actress who is perhaps best known for playing ‘mother from Hell’ Cilla Battersby-Brown in Coronation Street (from 2003 to 2007), is currently on a 12-venue tour of Joan Littlewood’s celebrated musical satire on the horrors of the First World War.
As a resident of Chorleywood on the Herts/ Bucks border, Wendi is delighted to be able to get home from Aylesbury within half an hour of the curtain call.
“It also means that I can be there to take my daughter Gracie (14) to school in Rickmansworth every morning,” she says.
Oh What A Lovely War is an ensemble piece in which Wendi plays at least 10 characters, from a female musical hall director, to a Serbian stallholder, a soldier and the suffragette Sylvia Pankhurst.
“I am literally changing hats and coats off stage and then rushing straight back on again. There’s a lot of fun in the wings, with lots of ‘Where’s my hat?’ and throwing costumes at one another,” she explains.
Oh What A Lovely War was first performed on stage in 1963, when it shocked audiences who still expected the Great War to be glorified on stage. Instead they saw a biting satire on the realities of mud, blood and suffering.
Ingeniously (and this probably accounts for the production’s enduring popularity), Littlewood produced a play within a play, in which a troupe of Pierrot clowns are putting on a musical about the glories of war, as they see them, while behind them, the audience sees what is really happening in the trenches.
“There we are, belting out these great numbers, while tickertape gives the facts, such as 60,000 killed in one day,” says Wendi.
Away from work, Wendy and her husband Kenny often enjoy walking in the Chilterns and recently bought their latest spaniel dog in Waddesdon.
A keen cook, Wendi is also known for her appearances on TV’s Master Chef. Later this year, she will be giving cake making demos around the country as part of the national Cake and Bake show.
“I make a cake every week for the [theatre] company,” she says. “It makes me quite popular.”
To buy tickets for Oh What A Lovely War, visit www.aylesburytheatre.org or call 0844 871 7607.