This is, I believe, going to be the first of many backstage/behind the scenes panto blogs from me, Dame Trott (Sam Rabone if I meet you after the show!). I hope that these little blogs will give you an insight into what goes on backstage at panto, and an idea of what we get up to. I thought I would start now as we had our first proper panto outing on Monday…
It’s Monday 22nd September 2014 and Evolution Productions have asked the cast to meet at The Octagon Theatre for the Press Launch. For many of us this is the first time we have met, for some its a chance to catch up with new friends but really it’s the first time that all the cast are together, and the first time the crew and theatre staff get to meet the people they will be working with over the Christmas period. I have performed at the Octagon before and so I know a few people who are here already, so even as I arrive it feels like I am being welcomed back into a family. Some friendly faces who I havent seen since 2009 are there waiting to start a busy and hectic day and it’s so nice to be able to catch up with people from the theatre.
As Dame I tend to arrive a bit earlier than everyone else, as I come with boobs, wigs, dresses, boots and a box of make up which hasn’t really been used since the previous Christmas Once in my dressing room, and sorted out, I have a quick wonder into town to grab a coffee before heading back to the theatre to meet the producers, Paul Hendy and Emily Wood. It’s been a good 9 months since I last saw them so it’s really nice to see them again and catch up. Then the rest of the cast start to arrive, first through the door is someone I worked with last year, the lovely Laura-Jane Matthewson, she will be playing fairy sugarsnap this year. We worked together last year in St Albans, so it’s really good to see her again, and know that I will enjoy having her on stage with me, she is talented, funny and has such a lovely singing voice, Yeovil you are in for a treat! Next through the door in Andrew Fettes, who I haven’t yet had the chance to work with, but I have seen him on stage, and let me tell you he is a cracking villain – so get ready with the boo’s! Following them we have two of our lovely dancers, its unusual to see them at a press launch, but our Jack and Princess had prior commitments and so, Josh and Nicola kindly said they would stand in for the photos!
It’s strange, in this day and age with Facebook it is really easy to get hold of someone, and having never met my other son, Eddie Dredge (Billy Trott) as he walks in I feel I already know him, having chatted loads before the Press Launch. so my family is complete, we just need a cow and a King and as I head down to put my make up on for photos in walks the wonderful Ieuan Rhys, our King, to complete the cast!
We have a busy day planned, meeting the local press, having pictures taken with Len, who is just fabulous and so passionate about panto that he makes the pictures just look amazing! We start by heading out to have some cast photos round the outside of the theatre. You’ll be seeing the results over Facebook, in the press and even on the side of a landrover over the next few months, in fact you wont be able to escape my face soon, I’ll be everywhere! Once cast photos have been taken we head to the front of the theatre to get some shots with the theatre staff and the producers. Adam and his team just love the panto and you can tell as they are so eager to get everyone in Yeovil to watch it and enjoy it as much as they do.
After a quick stop for lunch we start doing some filming and more press interviews, lots of the things we do on the press day you will be seeing in and around the theatre and all over the internet too, so keep you’re eyes peeled and you’ll spot all the hard work that goes into this one day!
Once we have all the shots, interviews and films done it’s time to pack away the frock for another few months, and we are finished for the day, but the cast arent quite finished yet. It’s time to explore the town where we will be spending our Christmas and also grab a brew. This gives us time to get to know each other and really makes us look forward to the first day of rehearsals in November! You may hear people speak about a “Panto Bubble” or a “Panto Family” and that’s what it really is, we get so close for the 6 weeks, doing two shows a day six days a week, it really does turn into a family! And over the Christmas period it makes it so much better, when you are away from home and your own family, when the panto family is lovely! And trust me, people of Somerset, this year the panto family is just lovely! I had such a great time last time I was here in Yeovil, everyone was so friendly and really embraced the panto. I can’t wait to come back and spend Christmas down here! Jack and the Beanstalk is going to be the BIGGEST panto Yeovil as ever had, so make sure you book your tickets and come and see us!
During the run I will be blogging as often as I can so you can come back and check on us!
I wont wish you a Merry Christmas just yet, so first Happy Hallowe’en and I look forward to seeing you all in Yeovil soon!
Dame Trott x