SARAH PETTICAN, 34, from Shoeburyness, plays the Witch in Little Theatre Company’s production of Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods. The show is at the Palace Theatre, Westcliff, from Wednesday, October 14, to Saturday, October 17.

Whendid you start taking part in dramatics?

I started performing at the Ridley Studios when I was nine and then joined the National Youth Music Theatre when I was 11. I stayed with them until I was 21.

Are or were any members of your family involved in drama?

No, I’m the only one. I’m known as the drama queen of the family!

Have you done any formal theatre or musical training?

It’s not really classed as formal training, but the National Youth Musical Theatre taught me everything I know. The level of professionalism that is expected from young performers in the company is amazing and I got to work with some exceptionally talented people.

Do you have any special skills that have proved useful on stage?

Not really, but I’ll give anything a go. Fake it till you make it, I say!

Do you do any accents or impressions?

When I was little I was great at impressions, but I can’t do them anymore. I’m not bad at accents though. The pupils at school always ask me to teach them in a different accent. Anything to get them concentrating.

Which experience or role do you regard as the highlight of your theatre career?

I think the highlight must be performing at Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 50th birthday celebration at the Royal Albert Hall. I got to sing with Antonio Banderas, which was incredible.

What was your most gratifying line of dialogue, stage action or lyric, in terms of laughter or other strong response from an audience?

I’m not sure about previous performances, but the character I am currently playing in Into the Woods (the Witch) has some cracking comedic lines.

“Nectarines” is the one that springs to mind…You’ll have to come and see it if you want to find out why.

Who is the most inspirational person you have worked with or been taught by in your stage career?

There have been so many, it’s hard to choose.

I was in the first ever cast of a musical called the Dreaming which was written by Howard Goodall and Charles Hart. Being able to see how a new piece of theatre is created by two such talented people was fantastic.

I must also mention Mark Pattenden, a director I worked with in the NYMT. He taught me so much about building a character.

When was your most embarrassing theatrical moment on or off stage?

In the Dreaming I had a scene where my character was supposed to be asleep on stage for about 15 minutes while the rest of the scene carried on around her and one night – I actually fell asleep!

Luckily I woke up in time for my next cue and no one was any the wiser.

What do you do for a living, when not acting?

I am a teacher at a pupil referral unit.

Has your theatre career ever been useful in your day job or have you ever drawn on your day job for any of your stage roles?

My theatre career is useful in my job every day. Every day I have to give my best performance to inspire the children to learn. The pupils are so supportive and some of them are coming to see Into the Woods.

Ever thought of going professional?

When I was younger, yes.

Unfortunately, financial restrictions meant I had to get a full-time job to pay the bills.

Now I am married and I love my life the way that it is, so being in LTC has given me a real happy medium.

Tell us about your current production, Into the Woods, and your role in it.

Into The Woods is basically a story of what happens after the “Happily Ever After’. The characters from well-known fairy stories go into the woods to find the thing that they think is going to make them happy, but as we all know, real life is not always that easy. There are lots of lessons to be learned along the way.

My character, the Witch, is part of the reason that some of the characters set off on their journey. She is great to play as she is so fun and mischievous, but also has some awful things to deal with. Underneath her nasty exterior, she has a real heart.

Which actors do you most admire and why?

Bernadette Peters and Bette Midler are queens to me. Their ability to tell a story through song is incredible and they have both broken my heart on many an occasion.

What role would you most like to play and why?

I would love to play Evita. What an amazing role for a woman – so strong and yet so fallible. A bit like the Witch really.

What future roles have you got lined up?

Who knows?! LTC have got some brilliant productions lined up and I am excited to be part of them, but at the moment, I am busy giving everything I have to Into the Woods.

Any tips to pass on for learning your lines?

Repetition. It’s the only way.