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Sleeping Beauty- Blodwyn Blogs! Day One

November 25, 2013

Sleeping Beauty 2013

Llandudno

Day One: A Rehearsal room somewhere in London!

Its been a busy week in Pantoland. On Saturday the Qdos truck arrived at Ilford and collected the panto costumes for Queen Blodwyn at Llandudno and for Mrs Crusoe at Southampton. Josh arrived and loaded rails of costumes, wicker skips along with giant objects to adorn these two dames! I’ve added to my wig skip some essentials- the picnic set for between shows dining, and the furry rug for between shows snoozing!

The day before was busy too, in a delightful way. I went over to the BBC in Great Portland Street to meet up with the lovely Barbara Windsor. A joy as always. Barbara is presenting a Radio 2 programme dedicated to all things Pantomime, which I believe goes out on New Years eve or day- not sure yet, so worth checking up on nearer the time. We chatted for ages about panto before realising we’d not started the interview!. This lady KNOWS pantomimes having taken part in them for most of her career- as Principal Boy, as Fairy and even once as an Ugly Sister, incredible as that may seem! There have been many panto experts visiting Barbara’s studio over the past few days, and it will be a programme not to miss!

Now.. to rehearsals!

 Rehearsals start today- and like I say every year, it really is a new term at school all over again! The night before I go through the same ritual I’ve always done- clothes put out ready incase I can’t make a decision that early, script in bag along with pencils, sharpener, rubber and pens. I take photos of the costumes incase there is a problem with entrances or staircases, and a pain au raisin in case I miss lunch. The bun is optional by the way!

This first day at school is easier because I’ve already worked in Llandudno with three of the company- Lisa, John and Helen and I’ve worked with our MD David several times, including last year- and I’ve met Darren who plays Slimeball before, and Adam our Prince- so not entirely a new lad at school.

So- I think formal introductions are in order. In the rehearsal room we sit around and introduce each other before splitting up to go to various rehearsal rooms, so here’s this years stella cast of “Sleeping Beauty” at Venue Cymru Llandidno!

Playing our arch villainess is Vicky Entwistle, of Coronation Street and recently Les Miserable in the West End via a visit to the Celebrity Big Brother House.

Arriving without his coach, Brendan Sheerin from “Coach Trip” and one of the stars of Bradford Alhambra’s Panto last year. Brendan plays my husband, the King.

My second time working with John Evans– I’ve been looking forward to it all year- Last time John was my son Wishee, this time around he’s our Court Jester Muddles!

Aladdin Pantomime at Venue Cymru 2011

Carabosse’s sidekick Slimeball is played by Darren Southworth. Darren has played Baddie and Ugly Sister among his other character roles, while The Enchantress Aurora is played by Lisa Lynch who hails from Dundee, and has recently been working with my mate Sean (Needham) in Scotland, and her trusted charge, the Princess Beauty is played by Charlotte Haines.

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Beauty’s paramour is played by Adam Booth who can trace his panto lineage back to performing as a juvenile in pantomimes, and now faces a fate worse than death in the lair of the evil Carabosse twice daily!

As this blog’s title suggests, I’m giving my Queen Blodwyn this season- My very first “Sleeping Beauty” as a “turn”- I’ve only previously costumed it or written it. I think this might be my 39th Pantomime this year, but I’ll need to sit down with a pen and paper and a glass of wine to confirm that fact.

Our director is Michael Gyngell. I first met Michael in 1988 when Peter Robbins and I were in Cinderella at the Mayflower Southampton, and Michael was in Cinderella also at the King’s Southsea, with Lionel Blair, Stephanie Lawrence and Mollie Sugden and her husband Bill Moore. Michael has an incredible track record of West End credits as a performer–“Fame” at the Shaftesbury, “West Side Story” at Her Majesty’s,  “Starlight Express” , “Art” at the Whitehall, “Dr Doolittle “ at the Apollo and the amazing “Poppy” which I saw and loved at both the RSC and the Barbican among others. A track record of directing, writing (he co-wrote the Stage Version of “Summer Holiday”) and as head of Musical Theatre & Drama at PerformersCollege- as well as directing plays and Pantomimes.

Our choreographer is Lizzi Gee– she’ll be working with the ensemble for the next few days in the hall next door to us. Her team of dancers include Emma Cooper who was at Llandudno when I was there in “Aladdin” two years ago, along with Elizabeth Moore, Grave Cinque-White, Emma Nightingale, Jamie Body and Shane Landers.

Our creative team includes David Lane our MD who I’ve had the pleasure of working with at Birmingham and Wolverhampton and the odd gig in Cannock and Dudley! Our Stage Managent is headed by David Morgan who is the Company Stage Manager, DSM Lisa Briddon (again I had the great joy of working with Lisa in Venue Cymru last time), Mathew Richard Smith ASM, Andrew Chapman Technical Assistant Stage Manager- Andy will be looking after the complicated effects and illusions that appear onstage, put together by The Twins, Magic Consultants to Qdos.

Wardrobe is looked after by Leona Richards and assisted by Helen Wink who looked after us all in “Aladdin” at the Venue.

So there we are in two large rehearsal rooms plus another room for David to rehearse songs with the company. To the left of us downstairs we have the wonderful Dame Mathew Kelly, and the magic of Jo Brand (in her debut Pantomime I think?) rehearsing the FFE Pantomime “Aladdin” that will be going into Wimbledon . We’ll be sharing for the week, and  hoping to catch up on Mathew’s news as the week goes on in the odd tea break!

Today Michael guided us all through Act One which was fully blocked and gone over a few times before we finished at around six o’clock. I got the chance to go through my song “At The Palace” with David, and very briefly blocked the Mirror Routine that John and I will be doing in Blodwyn’s Boudoir. Not a bad days work at all to get through an entire act, and have some songs under the belt!

Tomorrow I’m  called at 10am, and the day starts for me and Brendan and David going through our number for Act Two, while John joins Adam and  Charlotte  to rehearse in the bigger room.

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