Velma Celli chats about her upcoming Christmas Cabaret

You’re performing in Leicester Square on 3rd December as part of their new pop-up Christmas festival with your latest show, Velma Celli’s West End Christmas. How are you feeling about it?
EXTATIC. I love a good old Christmas knees up and any excuse to over sing those Christmas classics. It’s been a huge year for me both in my work but also my personal life so it felt important to wrap the year up with one big old diva fest. My fans are die hard and have supported me wonderfully this year so I want to give a show to send everybody off into the festivities, as a thank you really.

You’ve also got some very special guests performing with you, the wonderful Rachel Tucker and Liam Tamne. How did this dazzling line up come about?
I’ve followed Rachel and Liam’s careers one because they are FABULOUS and two because we are all around the same age… 21! They are both wonderful artists and were on my wish list to perform with at some point. I regularly have West End star guests in the Velma show – you cannot beat both their voices and it’s a nod to my roots as a fellow West End Wendy.

You’ve got a wonderfully varied CV, performing both as yourself as Ian Stroughair and as your fabulous alter ego Velma Celli.. What is it you enjoy about your cabaret shows as Velma?
The freedom to be as creative as I want. I enjoyed my days in “the shows” but I did get bored very quickly and sometimes one can end up so rehearsed and drilled you end up feeling like a robot. Velma is a character of which to explore (like in theatre), but with freedom because Velma is mine. The best of both I think.

Why did you decide to create a drag act? How did Velma Celli emerge?
I had been in musicals for years and wanted to take a break to think which direction I wanted to move in and what type of parts I wanted to play. I had learned how to “impersonate women” whilst in Chicago The Musical when playing Mary Sunshine. I saw a gap in the market for a live singing drag so I took those skills learnt from playing Mary and created Velma. It took off and the rest is history. She has taken me so many places around the world and within showbusiness and actually given me more breaks, well at least on paper.

You’ve been known to impersonate some iconic divas in your shows. Do you have a favourite?
To impersonate – definitely Anastacia. I love her and got to work with her last year which was a dream come true.

Do you have any pre-show rituals that help you get into the character of Velma?
The process of putting on the makeup is where the magic really happens. Oh, and a glass of very good wine. I always say the talent is unleashed at the bottom of the 1st glass.

What’s one musical you’ve been listening to on repeat recently? Is there a musical you’re desperate to see?
I don’t really listen to musicals much now. Though I would love to see Everyone’s Talking about Jamie. It’s a great story and an important message to be told.

What would be the title of your autobiography?
I had a go.

Do you have have any festive traditions? What’s your favourite part of the Christmas season?
I don’t really have traditions other than the obvious. Food, drinks and spending time with loved ones. CHEESEY!

Finally, why should people come see the show on 3rd December?
BECAUSE I SAID SO!!! No but seriously its going to be such a fun night so grab your pals and get down to the awesome Spiegeltent in Leicester Square.

Thanks for having Tea With Wilma

Interview by Olivia Dowden