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So another year of Strictly Come Dancing is over – the glitterball is on Kelvin Fletcher’s mantelpiece – and one of our favourite professional dancers from the series, Katya Jones can now bring her sparkle to Peterborough in the Wizard of Oz panto at the New Theatre.

Katya – who was partnered with Mike Bushell in the BBC series – stars as Glinda the Good Witch in this large scale panto spectacular which is now on at the New Theatre right through until December 31.

When ESP caught up with the Strictly pro ahead of the show she admitted to a few nerves.

“Well this is the first time I get to express myself through acting and words not through my dancing so it’s different.

“It gives me a bit of perspective of what the celebs go through on the show when they come in as a novice at dancing and then they improve – now it’s my turn. Even if I forget some of my script, because it’s panto I can just play on it – maybe throw in some dance moves!”

Having been taken over by Sellador and with a new team running the theatre it’s exciting times with a run of great shows and now their first panto to round off the year. But while panto is a staple of our Christmas season, it was something very new to Katya.

“In Russia we have nothing like this so when I came to England about 11 years ago and Neil was like ‘Oh we have to go to the panto’ – I was like what IS this? It just seemed so crazy and bizarre, but I totally get it now, it’s just so fabulous and it reminds me a little bit of Strictly where the whole family sits together on a Saturday night and enjoy and get involved and feel a part of it – it’s very similar. It’s the whole family having fun and celebrating together.”

Prime Pantomimes have brought a real spectacular to Peterborough packed with lashings of audience participation, loads of laughs and chart-topping hits.

“I’m really enjoying it,” says Katya, “I felt like it’s a good transition from the world of dance performance because our acting is a little over acting which is perfect for panto because it is cheesy, loud, lots of energy and interaction.

“I know Wizard of Oz isn’t traditional panto but I think it’s a good one with all the different characters and different stories, and there’s a moral to it of course and there’s going to be a little twist to it but now I feel like I’m so into this, like I was born to do it!”

When ESP met with the cast we have to say the costumes and make-up are stunning and everyone seemed perfectly cast as the characters we know and love. Of course you can’t have a Strictly Champion in the cast without a particularly glitzy frock!

“My costume is a bit like a cross between a Russian doll and the Statue of Liberty,” laughed Katya.

“But look out for a bit of a dress reveal, a costume change live on stage, so my dress is quite exciting – but again anything can go wrong. It’s definitely happened before… and as you know I’m very good at falling over on live TV, but I styled it out, so you never know!”

It wouldn’t be a trip down the yellow brick road without Toto, being played by the Theatre Director’s very own pooch Tilly, so we wonder who’s going to be the biggest diva on stage – “I’m sure it’s going to be Toto,” says Katya, “but if we have to share the spotlight it’s fine because I love dogs and it’s live so anything can happen.”

The Wizard of Oz is now playing at the New Theatre on Broadway until December 31 – to book your tickets call 01733 852992 or visit

Photos of Katya Jones at the New Theatre: Chris Brudenell for ESP Magazine

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