“Built on kindness” – our interview with some of the Cinderella cast

Our fantastic family pantomime Cinderella started its run at The Elgiva yesterday with the first of over 50 performances! During a break in rehearsals earlier in the week, we caught up with two of our stars – Kaya Rose who is playing Cinderella and Sean Luckham who is treading the boards as one of the Ugly Sisters – about this year’s show…

The Elgiva: How are you both feeling – excited for panto?

Kaya: Really excited! So far it’s going really smoothly and we got a lot done, even early on in the rehearsal process. Lots of us have done Cinderella before, so that helps with getting to grips with the production; this will be my third Cinderella

Sean: This will be my ninth Cinderella! And my 16th panto for New Panto Productions. My youngest, Jamie, was 18 a couple of days ago, so all his of his life, I’ve only ever done pantomimes. When he was younger, all the other kids used to say: “What does your dad do?” and he’d say:

“My daddy dresses up as a lady!”

“…the joy that you bring to everybody else’s Christmas fills your heart.”

But the amount of Christmases I’ve had with my family in sixteen years? Three. The rest have all been telephone calls from digs or hotels, wishing them a Merry Christmas… but, the joy that you bring to everybody else’s Christmas fills your heart. You leave your family at home, but you put another one in its place. The cast and crew become my family for those seven weeks.

Kaya: I agree with that one hundred per cent. Even though this is only my fourth panto (although it feels like longer), the love is there.

Sean (to Kaya): And you! YOU! Your confidence has gone through the roof! The last Aladdin we did, you were a shy little mouse, who wouldn’t say “boo” to a goose, but during rehearsals it has been wonderful to see how you have grown into a confident, professional performer. And this part suits you down to the ground.

Kaya: Thank-you! Yes, I am so much more confident in this role than as Jasmine in Aladdin!

The Elgiva: What is about the role of Cinderella that you prefer?

Kaya (laughing): Firstly I don’t really look like a Jasmine! Well, maybe I don’t look like a Cinderella, to be honest! It sounds rather corny, but really, I feel I relate to Cinderella more. Cinderella has a lovely spirit, tries to enjoy her life and has dreams for the future. I didn’t understand Jasmine as a character so well.

Sean: Cinderella is built on kindness; Jasmine is built on escape. Cinderella is happy whatever she’s got – she’s grateful and humble, but in the end she gets it all, even though she would be grateful for anything. She just wants people to be happy.

The Elgiva: Cinderella wants happiness for others and that, in the end, brings her own happiness.

“…the audience can feel the love on stage.”

Sean: Yes! Exactly like my dear old mum, who I lost this year. She would get happiness by making sure every single other person was happy and I see that in Cinderella, and in you, Kaya. This is why we are a family because Simon (the producer) only puts lovely people together and the beautiful thing about everyone getting on so well is that the audience feels that. When the audience can feel the love on stage, they join in with it.

Kaya: You are so right! Simon only puts lovely teams together and we all try to be hard-working – like Cinderella!

Sean: We try to leave our egos at the door and everyone chips in. Working in panto means you never stop learning, you never stop growing and you never stop appreciating the people that come to see you.

Kaya: We work hard, but it doesn’t feel like hard work! Panto is always fun, we’re always laughing and the people are such fun and so talented.

Sean: Yes – the talent! Wow! Sometimes the singing makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.

Kaya: Or “The Frozen Effect”!

Sean: Exactly. When you have hundreds of schoolkids in and they all join in with a song and start singing along, without being told to – it’s infectious. Children are so often told to sit still, be quiet, but panto breaks through all that and encourages spontaneity. And even we’re not on stage for that song, the cast are in the wings, watching the children sing along. It’s beautiful.

Kaya: I love the schools’ performances and the relaxed ones because you get such huge reactions – the audience is totally uninhibited, they let themselves go.

Sean: Actually, having different sorts of performances helps to keep you fresh as an actor – you have to constantly review the script as you go through the performance. A certain gag might not work for a certain audience, so have you to swerve it or change it.

Kaya: That’s easier for me, as a more ‘straight’ character – but you and Ben (the other Ugly Sister), you really have to think hard all the way through.

Sean: Yes, part of panto is really feeling where the audience is going with the comedy and changing from one joke or direction to another. So every performance is different.

Kaya: Every performance is different for me as well. Even though I try to stick to the script as much as possible, the audience is different every time and the other cast do things differently every time. And this cast do change things A LOT!

Sean: Some people call it a script… really it’s more of a guideline!

Kaya: Sometimes it’s not just the script that changes! Last year, twice, people just didn’t come on stage and left me there alone and wildly filling. It felt like ages!

Sean: Even though we’ve done Cinderella before, this production is totally different. It’s a brand-new script and we’re working with new people. I have a new Ugly Sister (Ben Moseby) who I’ve never worked with before, but we have to build a rapport, but he’s very talented and very nice, so it’s coming organically. And that’s so important because you can’t fake it – the audience will know.  We are always changing as people, so each year we are different and bring different colours to our performances.

Kaya: We are really focusing on getting the songs right and working with a live band means that’s going really well. There’s no Evil Stepmother in this production, the Sisters carry it all, so that’s a big difference.

The Elgiva: Does the script explain that?

Sean: Very briefly – and then we get on with it!

Catch Kaya and Sean in Cinderella, a traditional family pantomime, at The Elgiva from now until Sunday 5th January.

11th December 2019