Sleeping Beauty runs at Malvern Theatres from 15 December 2016 to 8 January 2017, for more information and to book your tickets for this fabulous family pantomime, follow this link: http://www.malvern-theatres.co.uk/events/event/sleeping-beauty-2/
The character of Carabosse is the equivalent of Maleficent in the pantomime version of Sleeping Beauty, produced by UK Productions. Would you believe that Eastenders’ very own Gillian Wright (Jean Slater) is stepping into the shoes of the wicked ‘fairy’? I think she’s going to be brilliant and I enjoyed a chat with the lady herself:
Hello Gillian, thank you for chatting to Break A Leg, so first of all tell me, have you played a baddie before and do you enjoy playing the baddie?
Yes, I have played the baddie before and I really enjoy playing the villain!
Do you prefer playing a wicked character?
I have played a few good fairies before, but I do prefer playing the baddie because you get more meatier stuff to do. Although I think playing both the good and bad roles are great to do, pantomime is special.
How does being in pantomime compare to other stage work such as How The Other Half Loves, which you’re currently appearing in?
Well, How The Other Half Loves is a comedy so there is a lot of laughter and it’s very rewarding to be in something where you get a good audience reaction. I’ve really been enjoying this and it’s not every day you get to do an Ayckbourn, which is rewarding in itself and requires you to be rigorous because the script is so tight. Pantomime is a particularly different style of work, but hopefully we’ll get a good amount of audience participation.
Moving on to your career as a whole, what has been your absolute favourite role to date?
That is a difficult question, but I really like what I’m doing now (playing Mary Featherstone in How The Other Half Loves) she’s a very nervous character and she has quite a big journey in the play. I know I will love playing the baddie again, though and I’m looking forward to starting panto. Of course, I was very lucky with the writers in Eastenders, they wrote very well for my character and that was a privilege to play.
Of course, you were Jean Slater in Eastenders, how did you find that experience?
I had a lot of support, especially when I first went in originally all those years ago. Obviously you do your own research and your own homework, but I had support from somebody who suffers from Bipolar and he was always on the end of the phone for me. I needed him less and less as the role went on, but to begin with I needed his help to understand and he was very good at telling me what the darkness would be like.
I think that mental health issues now are a bit more openly discussed and it’s not quite something to be ashamed of quite so much anymore.
Finally, what would you say to encourage people to buy a ticket and come to see you and the rest of the cast in Sleeping Beauty?
For those people who have never seen a panto before, it’s such a British tradition and it’s one of those things that’s on your Christmas list of things to do. I’ve got a really good feeling, especially now I’ve met some of the cast, today, and I’ve performed with Quinn Patrick (playing Nurse Nelly) last year and we had so much fun together. For those who have seen panto, it’s got everything in it, this should exhilarate you, have you laughing, hopefully some of the little ones will be scared because I think it’s equally important for them to be scared of me. Then there’s the romance of the story and the wishes, hopes and dreams. I also think that seeing a panto is part of Christmas and as important as Christmas dinner!
I’d like to thank Gillian for chatting to me at Malvern Theatres on 30 August, it was a real pleasure to meet her and I look forward to booing and hissing her in December!