Yesterday afternoon, the Grapevine team were invited to the Ipswich Town Hall for the launch of this years Ipswich Regent pantomime of Enchanted Entertainment’s Cinderella, which runs from the 14th-31st December.
We were greeted by the two Ugly Sisters upon arrival, got a peek at the beautifully designed Cinderella themed backdrop and mingled with the cast in their costumes and following the chats and a few press photo calls, true to the Cinderella style we watched the cast trot off from the Cornhill in a magical horse and carriage over to the Christchurch Mansion ready for a few more fun photos. Which seemed to delight many passers-by, no matter what age they were – which just proves that the joy of Panto really is for everyone.
We managed to meet and steal a few words with the cast members, from S Club 7 fame turned Fairy Godmother Hannah Spearritt, the handsome Prince Charming that is Adam Garcia, young and sweet Cinderella Cleo Demetriou the two wicked Ugly Sisters Paulus and Gavin Ashbarry, ever-popular funnyman Mike McClean as Buttons and BBC Radio Suffolk’s Wayne Bavin as Barron Hardup.
Firstly, we got each cast member to introduce themselves and tell us a bit about their characters…
Adam Garcia: I’m playing the Prince. He’s very royal, he’s a little pompous and a little vain, but he’s quite nice underneath it all. I would like to say he thinks he’s charming, but I’m not convinced he is, but he’ll certainly try.
Cleo Demetriou: I’m Cinderella, and I’m very excited – I’ve never been a princess before! I haven’t quite figured out my take on her yet, but I’m going to make her quite innocent and kind – but that’s all I really know until I start rehearsals.
Hannah Spearritt: My character is The Fairy Godmother and she is essentially the storyteller, and she’s quite a magical character so I’m excited to take on such an iconic role.
Gavin Ashbarry: We are the ugly sisters, Ivana and Ivanka. But we’re posh, we’ve been away at Finishing School and this is the first time that we come and meet our sister Cinderella, and basically just give her as much grief as possible!
Paulus: Well, we think we’re posh… not sure whether we are posh…
Gavin Ashbarry: Yeah, but we’re just the baddies. We come in and we like to get booed and hissed – the more boo’s the better!
Wayne Bavin: I’m playing Barron Hardup, and I use all my powers as Cinderella’s step-dad to make sure she does go to the ball and it has a happy ending!
Mike McClean: Yes, I play Buttons. He’s the guy that basically loves Cinderella; he wishes he could marry her and would do anything for her, but then the Prince comes in and sweeps her off her feet so he gets her, and I end up with nobody…
All sounds exciting! I’m sure the audience will love it. What is your level of experience in Panto – is this all new to you or are you a seasoned pro?
Adam: This is my first one! I’m really excited to be part of that whole culture. I’m from Australia but I’ve lived here for 25 years, so more than half my life, and I’ve always had a very keen knowledge of what Pantomime is. You know, I’ve seen friends in it, it’s on TV and the catchphrases are woven into the fabric of how people in Britain think and feel, particularly at this time of year. To be part of that tradition is pretty great.
Cleo: I’ve never done a panto before! I’ve only seen like one panto in my life, so it’s very new to me but I’m very excited.
Hannah: No, this is my first one! I’m very excited.
Gavin: I’ve done a few – most recently I did a version of Cinderella in Newcastle last year, before that I’ve done Panto in Hull.
Paulus: I’ve done Dame at Barking and Baddie in Bury St Edmunds, and done 15 years of Adult Panto as both Dame and the Baddie. And as writer, director and producer… Also we [he and Gavin] have done 3 adult Pantos together – but we’ve never done family panto together, so basically the job will to be as family friendly as possible!
Wayne: It’s my 5th year [in Panto at the Ipswich Regent], and it’s good to be back again!
Loving that there’s such a mix. Next up we asked if they had any connections to Ipswich – have they been here before, or is the area new to them?
Adam: It’s my firt time here! I’m trying to think where else I’ve been in this area, a few friends of mine got married a couple of years ago – but I haven’t ever really come this way. It was beautiful coming in on the train, there was a lovely bit of water – I do like a nice wetlands area, apparently there’s lots of it around here so I’m keen to go and explore that. Keen to know Ipswich a bit better, I’m here for a month so it’s always lovely to discover new places.
Cleo: No, never – today is literally the first time here. It seems really nice, I walked from the station as I wanted to see the town, and it’s really nice actually so I’m very excited to get to know it a bit more.
Hannah: Well I grew up in Great Yarmouth and it’s super close [to home]. I’m used to being at least 3 hours away, and sometimes when you drive it’s even longer because of traffic so it’s really such a lovely settling thought because my parents are only about an hour from here, so it’s really nice to come and be in between London and where they are. It’ll be lovely around Christmas-time too.
Paulus: I have! I performed here earlier this year in a cabaret, I was hosting/compering a sort of burlesque cabaret show at KC’s. I met some people there and told them all about the panto so hopefully they’ll be coming…
Mike: It’s my 4th time here [In Ipswich for Panto] so yeah it’s always nice to be back. I know my way around now!
Again, a great mix! We got them to tell you why you should come and see the show…
Adam: Despite me being in it, or obviously because I’m in it, you should come and see it because it’s going to be exactly what you want from a Panto. Bright, funny, uplifting, bit raucous, bit bawdy, something for the kids, something for the adults, and everything in between.
Cleo: It’s Panto, it’s Christmas, it’s traditional and it’s going to be really fun this year!
Gavin: Because it’s Panto and it’s Christmas, you have to go to Panto at Christmas its the law! If you don’t shout ‘It’s Behind You!’ three times, you don’t get presents…
Wayne: It’s the fun of it! Christmas for me very much is panto – I grew up with it, I took my children and it wouldn’t be Christmas without Panto for me now.
Mike: They should come and see it because it’s live theatre, it’s in a great town called Ipswich – so go and support live theatre because I think it’s the only time of year kids get to be taken to a theatre. Get off your Xbox and Playstation, don’t watch the rubbish on the TV, and come and see some real live music, great comedy and for about 2 hours you’ll be enthralled and enjoy it.
With Christmas rapidly approaching, I couldn’t let them leave without asking one big fun question of what is their favourite thing about the festive season?
Adam: In the UK, it’s evening or morning walks because everyone’s in normally but I like to get out and have a stroll. The smell of things cooking in smoke. I do love a Christmas Pudding and the other thing I like is that you can have leftover Christmas Dinner at virtually any time of the day after, it can be breakfast and it’s fine! You can have it all for the next couple of days, depending how much you have left, and I think that’s a pretty great thing.
Cleo: Ah everything! I honestly can’t pick one thing, but I love being together with family, the decorations and the atmosphere, but I love everything.
Hannah: Oooh, so many things but the food and the fun!
Gavin: Mmm mince pies! I absolutely adore them. I live in Germany, where they don’t make mince pies, so last year my mum came to visit and she literally got me two jars of mincemeat and I ate it with a spoon. I’d get in from work and go ‘ooh time for my mince pie and just sit and eat mincemeat’.
Paulus: I like the decorations! I love Christmas Trees and the Christmas songs and carols actually. I love hearing them on the radio, and hearing people sing Carols in the street. Oh and I’ve got my bauble collection. I’ve spent quite a lot of money on Christmas baubles, more than I spend on clothes actually…
Wayne: Probably food! You can eat all the food you want and you don’t have to feel guilty and nobody judges you.
Mike: Spending time with my partner, my children and just being with my family.
Thank you to the cast for taking the time to chat with me. We look forward to seeing you – oh yes we do!
Here’s a few of our photos from the day too…
For ticket details, visit ipswichtheatres.co.uk.