Arts Derbyshire


InDerby: From East End Queen to Wicked Fairy – TV’s Rita Simons to star in Sleeping Beauty

Rita Simons to play the Wicked Fairy in Sleeping Beauty - ARTICLE.

One of Britain’s best loved TV actresses and former Eastenders icon, Rita Simons, is to star in Derby’s pantomime this year.

Best known for playing Roxy Mitchell in the long-running BBC series, Rita will be taking to the Derby Arena stage as wicked fairy Carabosse in Sleeping Beauty from Friday 10th December 2021 to Saturday 8th January 2022.

Originally planned for 2020, the COVID pandemic meant producers Little Wolf Entertainment and Derby LIVE had to put the show to bed for a year – but this favourite family yarn will be back on stage for 2021. Morgan Brind and Alan Bowles from Derby-based Little Wolf Entertainment, said: “We are delighted Rita will be dazzling us all as the wicked Carabosse in our production of Sleeping Beauty this Christmas.

“Instantly recognisable to many as her iconic character Roxy Mitchell in BBC Eastenders, and a spell in the celebrity Jungle, Rita is also no stranger to the West End following appearances in Everybody’s Talking About Jamie and the UK tour of Legally Blonde. Indeed she will be heading to Derby fresh from her role of Velma in Hairspray at the London Coliseum, continuing our tradition of bringing the very best of the West End direct to Derby.

“While the dates may have changed, unlike Princess Rose we haven’t been snoozing and panto is coming back with a bang!”

Rita Simons said: “Who doesn’t want an excuse to be a little bit wicked at Christmas? I’ve always loved doing panto and being allowed to wreak havoc as the baddie is my favourite job! I’m looking forward to making an entire arena shout out and boo me and it will also be nice to get to know the city better.”

In 2018, Rita was a campmate on ITV’s I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here where she endured countless trials and became camp mum on the most watched TV programme of the year!

Playing Roxy Mitchell earned her the Most Popular Newcomer award at the National Television Awards. Other awards and nominations include Best Newcomer at the Digital Spy Soap Awards; Best Onscreen Partnership for her unforgettable character partnership with on-screen sister Ronnie Mitchell, played by Samantha Womack; Best Newcomer at the TV Now awards, a nomination for Best Newcomer at the 2008 British Soap Awards and Best Newcomer at the 2008 Inside Soap Awards.

Rita has also appeared in Mile High, Dream Team and toured the UK and Ireland as Paulette Bonafonte in hit musical Legally Blonde.

In Spring 2012, Rita was the subject of a major documentary film Rita Simons: My Daughter, Deafness and Me made by Leopard Films for primetime BBC One. Rita actively supports the charity RNID.

Previous to this, her credits include Lisa Prescott in The Krays: Dead Man Walking, an untold chapter from the notorious legend of the Kray Twins, Caro Harcourt in the UK Tour of Peter James’ The House in Cold Hill and Miss Hedge in Everybody’s Talking About Jamie at London’s Apollo Theatre.

Tickets for Sleeping Beauty are on sale now from Derby LIVE, with prices ranging from £14.75 to £32.75, depending on the performance. Concessions are available. Early birds who don’t doze can get a discount of £2 per ticket if they book by Sunday 31st October 2021.

Tickets to our VIP Meet the Cast night after the 6.30pm show on Saturday 18th December are an additional £20 for adults, £12 concessions, and include a programme and access to an exclusive post-show drinks reception with a chance to meet the cast.

Book your pantomime tickets online at or call the Sales and Information Centre on 01332 255800.

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