As Christmas approaches and we busy ourselves in preparation for the festive season, performers across the land are rehearsing frantically - adding the finishing touches to our favourite pantos.
Pantomime is a uniquely British tradition and this festive season the magical tale of Cinderella comes to the Civic Theatre, Chelmsford with a whole host of colourful characters that will entertain children and adults alike.
The cast and crew have been rehearsing for the last couple of weeks to ensure that the show is perfect for its debut this week and go! dropped in during rehearsals to see how the preparations were going.
Cinderella brings together song, dance, and laughter in an enchanting family pantomime with specially created scenery, innovative sets, real pantomime ponies, spectacular lighting effects and a fantastic live band.
It is a joint venture between the Civic Theatre and Daryl Back's One From The Heart productions with Simon Aylin writing and directing pantomime at the Civic Theatre for the sixth time.
In the quintessential pantomime, the elegant Cinderella has just lost her beloved father and has been put in the care of her stepmother who has two daughters of her own.
To pay her way, Cinderella is made to live under the stairs and do all the cleaning, mending and cooking for her lazy step-family while dreaming of a handsome prince to whisk her away.
Will Cinderella be rescued by her prince and live happily ever after? Oh yes she will!
Wicked Suzie Chard, 30, travels from Romford for the production and is playing the wicked stepmother. She said: "I've been doing pantos for a long time and they are always very fun.
"It's a bit of a change from my previous role but that's the beauty of acting we perform different roles all the time. The nature of pantomime is that we work hard for a few weeks before for a very quick tur naround.
"Pantos always carry a special atmosphere. They stand alone in their style and always attract great crowds. They demand everything to be bigger, better and louder and that makes performing very fun.
"Chelmsford is a lovely place and everyone here is getting along great. It's going to be a fantastic show!" Tom Parsons, 28, is originally from Bristol and has toured Australia with Jesus Christ Superstar. He will embark on a tour of the same production in the US this summer performing the role of Peter. He said: "I can't wait for the show to get started.
"We have worked really hard and will continue to do so right up until the day of the show. Then the real hard work begins!
"This is my first panto for seven years and I can honestly say that this is the first time that I have really felt Christmassy- but that is the beauty of panto.
"There's far less pressure to perform because when things go wrong instead of it being a huge disaster for the play - it's just part of the fun.
"I'm looking forward to meeting the people of Chelmsford as this is my first time here."
Lewis Barnshaw, 28, is from Plymouth and plays Buttons. He trained at The Royal Academy of Music in Musical Theatre and is currently studying for his MA in Musical Theatre Direction at Arts Education. He said: "I really love performing as Buttons. At first interacting with the crowd can be quite nerve-wracking because you don't know what they might say and you worry you may not have a sharp answer.
"But now I've been doing this a number of years I can really relax and enjoy the public's reactions. Buttons is a great character to play because you get to interact a lot.
"I love the magic of panto and Cinderella is the most magical play, I think - it was the first panto that I ever saw and one that always captures my imagination.
Family Neal Wright, 40, plays Gail, one of the ugly sisters, and trained at Arts Educational School. He said: "We've been working really hard to get it right for the first day.
"These few weeks you work very hard with everyone in the production and you become like a small family. It's like a panto bubble with everyone becoming pretty close pretty quick.
"I'm personally looking forward to getting the audience in here and really having some fun with them.
"There are some jobs in acting that can be more serious and emotionally taxing but this is just straightforward fun which is brilliant.
"We enjoy interacting with the adults too because we don't want them to get bored - it's always a challenge."
Essex-boy Richard Foster-King plays Ugly Sister Wendy and is one half of comedy duo Dickie and Dave. He said: "The audience is key to the whole performance of pantomime. They are the final cog and act as another cast member in the play. There is an air of uncertainty but it should be good fun.
"Cinderella is the most famous and magical of all fairy tales and superb to perform. Playing one of the ugly sisters is always good fun because there are some sneaky adult jokes.
"It has been brilliant so far and we have become like a family unit. Performing in the play becomes like our Christmas which is fantastic."
Justin Allin, 22, wardrobe manager, is from Saffron Walden and has recently finished studying for his BA in costume design at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. He said: "I was working previously at The Globe theatre doing Macbeth which was really challenging but this has its own set of pressures.
"There are tons of costumes here so it can be pretty hard. I have to amend all of the costumes to fit the wearer and then make sure they are all good to go a few days before the start. "Panto can be quite nostalgic and always reminds me of Christmas - it's very inclusive and very British."
Jordan Young, 20, is studying stage management and is undertaking work experience at One From The Heart, staying in digs in Great Baddow. She said: "I can't wait for the show to kick off.
"The play is really starting to take shape this week and it's very exciting. At the minute I'm assisting with props - I'm on custard pie duty!
"As part of my course we are required to do work experience and this just sounded brilliant. I want to eventually go into stage management and directing because people say that I can be quite bossy!
"I love panto because it's just great fun - a great atmosphere and Cinderella is a truly magical experience which the actors can enjoy as much as the kids!" How to book Cinderella is at the Civic Theatre, Chelmsford, from December 4 to Sunday, January 5, 2014. Tickets are priced Pounds 20, concessions Pounds 17 on 01245 606505 or at www.chelmsford.gov.uk/theatres
A service of YellowBrix, Inc.
Most Popular Stories
- Dmytro Firtash, Ukrainian Billionaire, Arrested in Vienna
- Obama, Ukraine Discuss Russian Incursion in Crimea
- Obama's Overtime Initiative Praised, Condemned
- Liberty Media Drops Sirius Bid
- Republicans Warn Obama on Immigration
- Uli Hoeness, Bayern Munich President, Gets Prison for Tax Evasion
- Lady Gaga Roasts Self on Spit at SXSW
- West Readies Harsh Sanctions Against Russia
- Calumet Photo Files for Bankruptcy
- Drake Wins Big MTV's Woodie Awards at SXSW