Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs pantomime at Glyndwr had its opening night on Saturday – and runs until the 26th December, the panto includes an all-star cast, featuring a former Big Brother contestant and a presenter on ‘The Holiday and Cruise Channel’.
Wrexham.com met up with a few of the cast members ahead of the opening show.
Luke Scrase, who appeared in this year’s Big Brother, is making his acting debut and is looking forward to the challenge ahead, ‘I’ve only ever been to a few pantos before but I’m expecting it to be fun. I’m looking forward to this whole theatrical thing.’
‘I’m not nervous. Before I went into Big Brother I wasn’t nervous until the day I walked out in front of everyone. I can say I’m not nervous now, but by the opening show I probably will be a bit nervous.’
Scrase is adamant that the parallels between reality television and pantomime will stand him in good stead for this experience, ‘Big Brother indirectly prepared me for this, in that it’s something I haven’t done before, an unknown thing in front of a crowd. On Big Brother you’re yourself, but in pantomime you’re an exaggerated character – not of yourself, but of the character you play. People may like me on stage, and they may not, so in terms of critique Big Brother’s prepared me. You just form a hard skin to ignore stuff.’
Whilst his role as The Huntsman marks his first professional foray into the acting world, the ex-Big Brother housemate is keen for it to continue, ‘I used to do some acting when I was younger, whilst at university. This, and presenting, would be an avenue I’d like to pursue, and this will be testing myself live; it’s definitely a route I want to push.’
Despite being a panto novice, Scrase is supported by relative veterans in Charlotte McKelvie, who portrays Snow White, and The Holiday and Cruise Channel’s John Cooper, who plays the panto Dame.
McKelvie has been working for the New Pantomime Productions since she was 12 and the traditional panto production has become a Christmas ritual for the actress.
‘The sets are incredible, the costumes are wonderful and it’s such a Christmassy feeling. It gets the kids really excited for Christmas and it’s very realistic, the feel of the whole show. That’s what panto’s all about. It’s for the children, to make them excited about Christmas and get them involved. It’s lovely.’
Her co-star, John Cooper, performing in his 12th panto and his third year in Wrexham, believes that the role of the Christmas panto is integral to exposing young children to the wonders of theatre for the first time.
‘Once they’ve been and experienced the fun of it, there’s nothing like a live event. It’s ok seeing funny things on the TV, that’s great and I don’t want to take anything away from that, but when they see it live on stage and it’s happening here and now, that’s what really gets the kids going. You can shout out and it affects things, you don’t have to text, you don’t have to ring, you just have to shout out. Modern technology is trying to follow panto, “It’s behind you. Oh no it isn’t. Oh yes it is”, that’s complete interaction. That’s like Ant and Dec saying ‘text your favourite number now’.
As the evenings draw ever darker and the weather ever colder, the warmth and joviality that can be provided by the Christmas panto is, Cooper believes, enough of an appertiser in itself.
‘It’s Christmas. There’s nothing like an experience where a kid of 4 and a granny of 104 and everyone in between can all go out, all get something different out of it but have an absolutely fantastic time. That’s what it’s all about. The theatre, the William Aston Hall, is just made for that, it’s a great atmosphere in there. It’s escapism for a couple of hours and panto takes you off to a happy place’