It was day one of rehearsals in Gravesend for Jack and the Beanstalk today and I was sooooooo excited! I love that no matter the up and downs of a year (and 2016 has been full of them - let's face it!), panto is always there to bookend the year with laughter, songs, sparkles, mayhem and fun!
Seeing Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty certainly had me in the mood for today and I don't think I could get to Gravesend fast enough! The Woodville (where the panto is) is such a friendly venue and this is my third Christmas there (but my eighth show there in total) and it was lovely to see familiar faces (whether they were as pleased to see mine is another story.
As well as the staff at the Woodville, the cast is full of familiar faces: Ant Payne, Lucy Reed, Jo Gallagher; all people I've worked with before. And then there's Leanne Jones, Anthony Costa and Jaz Ellington who are not only recognisable from their stage and screen credits, but have popped up over the years through friends and promo events. It's a lovely feeling to be going to start a show a know you're not a stranger!
It was a short day - only five hours long, but we had a read through, blocked Act One, found out about this year's chosen charity: Medical Detection Dogs and even had a half hour lunch break, where I did not partake in one of the Woodville's legendary sausage rolls. But I will. I won't even feel bad about it: when we did Aladdin here a few years ago Shane Lynch ate loads of them and he's really buff and cool... so that's why I eat them too - so I can be buff and cool.
Blocking a show, which is working out where people stand and where they move, can be quite a tedious process, but it zipped by today. There was a nice atmosphere in the room: lots of laughter and silliness. I've a very silly sense of humour and am more than happy to laugh at innuendo and unexpectedly rude comments and this being panto there was plenty of that on and off stage!
I think we've got a really strong panto on our hands here and I can't wait to get it on its feet! In the mean time I have to start preparing my opening spot as dame and currently I'm trying to invent jokes about Brexit or Donald Trump. As you do...