Who will be going to the ball this Christmas for the Kenton Theatre’s Cinderella panto?
The cast of the 2021 panto were unveiled by Bear in the Air Productions last week and sees many first time panto performers joined by Jessica Condon who returns to the Kenton after playing the Prince in Sleeping Beauty in 2019.
First-timers and graduates include Anna Amelia (Cinderella) Daniel Craig-Salmon (Buttons) Eve Kitchingman (Prince) and Grace Allen (multi-roles), who all went through a tough audition process.
Panto Director & Writer, Heather Simpkin said, “The standard at the auditions was incredible and we’re pleased to give many of the performers their first gig out of university. We’re giving first opportunities to performers who wouldn’t have had this especially because of Covid.”
Anna who is originally from Durham did pantos when she was younger but this will be her first professional one. She commented, “I’ve never played Cinderella before and I thought one day I’d like to be a princess. I was very excited when I heard I got the role. It’s nice to feel like a role model for people watching the show and I think she’s relatable.”
Daniel said, “At the audition I was asked to do a party piece. I did an impression of Boris Johnson. I gave it my best shot and I they seemed to enjoy it. I like to think that’s why they picked me. I think the biggest challenge will be to pace myself during the 3 show days. I think it will get very intense so I think keeping your energy throughout all of the shows, is going to be the challenge.”
Eve who is playing the Prince thinks she’s better suited to male roles. Eve said, “I’m looking forward to my solo as it is one of my favourite songs and I’m going to be singing it live for the first time. I’m really excited. The script is still work in progress as we will add things to it as we are rehearsing it. It’s a collaborative process but the one thing that terrifies me is improv!”
Playing multi-roles in any play is challenging. Grace said, “I think there will probably be a few costume changes. I think the challenge is the stress of getting on stage in time. It’s thinking fast, remembering what you’re doing, and being OK with improv if things go wrong like make a joke about it. Playing Swing (multi-role) has always intrigued me. I wanted to get a good start with Swing seeing lots of different parts and becoming a cleverer actor.”
Returning to Henley for her second panto and this time as Musical Director, Jessica didn’t need to go through the audition process. This time she’s playing the Fairy Godmother and the Stepmother. Jessica comments, “I love it here and it was my first Christmas here from moving from Australia and gosh I had such a wonderful time and my Dad came to visit and saw the panto. I have such fond memories of Henley and enjoyed Magoos, the Catherine Wheel and the delicious food at Giggling Squid. Last time we had a great cast. We did muck around a bit. One time when I had to play the flute I was laughing too much to play it. One lovely moment was during a schools’ performance when we were singing a song from The Greatest Showman and the children all started singing with us and I nearly cried on stage. It reminded me of why we do what we do. You do it to take people out of life for a bit and I think that’s so especially important after the year and half we have just had.”
“This time I wanted to do something with more variation. I think the challenges will be changing the make-up. It also depends on how evil or sweet they want me to be. I love the boos and am so looking forward to that.”
Duo Beatrice and Eugenie, The Ugly Sisters are looking forward to playing their comedy parts. Christopher (Eugenie) has played many different panto roles but this will be his first full panto Dame part. He said, “This is the first time I’m putting the full Monty together (wigs and full make-up) and it’s very exciting. Comparing it with the other roles. Certain roles you have to be faithful to the script. For the Dame you can get to have a bit more fun with. Everyone has to carry on despite what you are doing and it’s up to us, not necessarily trip people up as a it’s supportive atmosphere but we can ad lib a bit and engage with the audience a bit more. We can take little detours and bring it back to where we need to go as long as we don’t add another hour to the running time!”
Josh (Beatrice) used to go to pantos at the Birmingham Hippodrome every year when he was younger. He comments, “When I got a bit older I started thinking that could be a job and then I trained through drama school. When I played Widow Twankey in a filmed Aladdin, I thought this is so fun, second to none and there is no other experience like it, ever. You can literally turn the show on its head, causing problems for anybody.” Previously a Drag Queen, Josh doesn’t think he’ll have any trouble with make-up. He commented, “Gluing your eyebrows down is the hardest part of the make-up. It’s good Christopher and I have got each other to bounce off and we’ve also got each other to let each other know whether we’ve got any chest hair showing!”
Cinderella runs from 11 to 30 December. To book go to https://kentontheatre.co.uk/event/cinderella-2/