CHRISTMAS is so last year, the New Year is not so new now, but Jodie Prenger is still in a party mood for 2019.

The I'd Do Anything winner will be in York from January 28 to February 2 for the only Yorkshire dates of Sarah Esdaile's touring production of Abigail's Party, Mike Leigh's groundbreaking 1977 comedy of suburban manners.

"Abigail’s Party is a true British classic and a real bucket-list part for me," says Jodie, who will lead the cast as brash party host Beverly Moss on a tour running from today to April 20. "I’m thrilled to be involved in something so wonderful. I can’t wait to get started."

In Leigh's fractious, dark comedy, Beverly and her husband Laurence are throwing a party for their newlywed neighbours, Tony and Angela. Joining them will be highly strung Susan, banished from her teenage daughter Abigail's party.

Welcome to 1970s' suburbia and its heady mix of free-flowing cocktails, cheese and pineapple sticks and even cheesier disco songs. As tensions rise and tempers flare, the sheen of respectability is torn away by the warring couples with potentially disastrous consequences.

Blackpool-born Jodie must adopt an Essex accent for playing Beverly, but she has proved already she can indeed do anything thrown at her, from the American Mid-West for Calamity Jane to Liverpudlian housewife in Willy Russell's Shirley Valentine.

In geographical terms, Beverly is not that far removed from Nancy in Oliver!, her break-out role in Cameron Mackintosh's production at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, after winning BBC One's talent show in 2011.

"I had lots of training in my Nancy days,16 months for that, with Jill McCulloch, who mainly worked in films at the time," she recalls.

"Only Calum Callaghan, from Mr Selfridge, in our cast is Essex through and through so there are things he can tell us how to say."

Jodie puts her chameleon facility for accents down to her Blackpool upbringing. "It's probably all those coach parties coming to the Golden Mile when I was growing up," she suggests.

"When I played Shirley Valentine, it took me a while afterwards to shake off saying words in a Scouse accent, which is quite bizarre, and after Calamity I was saying things with an American twang! Now I'm playing Beverly and Essex is a great accent to do."

Beverly can be seen as something of a monster in her mauling, bawling behaviour, but Jodie demurs: "I understand her ways – and director Sarah Esdaile is very much in cahoots with Mike Leigh about her – so, yes, she may maul a man in front of her husband; yes, she beats down Laurence, but we see the truth of what it's all coming from."

How will she play Beverly? "I think that sometimes a lot can be said with Beverly with a look; a lot can be shown through her intentions. Things have not gone her way and she's a control freak, so the mental side of that is really strongly played out," says Jodie.

Leigh's play may be 42 years old now, but the aspirational new middle-class world his satirical sitcom depicts has not gone away. "It was very new money back then, and that's still very present. People always want the next big thing, but sometimes it doesn't fill the void," says Jodie.

Mention Abigail's Party and invariably people recall not only Alison Steadman's performance from the Play For Today production but also Beverly's "tastes", her love of Demis Roussos records and cheese and pineapple sticks.

Where does Jodie stand on Demis and cheesy nibbles on cocktail sticks? "I absolutely adore Demis Roussos!" she says. "I was born in 1979 and I grew up in a Blackpool hotel, so Demis Roussos's music boomed around me. So it's very nostalgic to me, and hearing it now, it feels like home to me, rather than something alien."

And cheesy nibbles? "Cheese and pineapple...it's the way forward! It's simple and it's there!" enthuses Jodie.

Abigail's Party runs riot at Grand Opera House, York, from January 28 to February 2, 7.30pm and 2.30pm Wednesday, Saturday matinees. Box office: 0844 871 3024 or at atgtickets.com/york

Did you know?

Jodie Prenger appeared previously at the Grand Opera House, York, in Tell Me On A Sunday in April 2016 and in the title role in Calamity Jane in February 2015.

Charles Hutchinson