Panto land, a beautiful place, filled with outrageous costumes, colourful sets and normally a man or two in drag shooting water pistols.
This is where I spent my winter. I spent it running about Sherwood Forest as 'All The Merry Men' in Robin Hood
The adventure began on the 7th November when I picked up Tom from Clapham and drove to Loughborough. Tom played Robin Hood, we had worked together before on Goosebumps ALIVE at The Vaults. This job was definitely different from our last one! We got to our digs that evening and we were met by Geoff (who played Guy of Gisborne), Lawrie (Sheriff of Nottingham) and Alan (one of our spotlight operator and all round handyman). We were all staying together at 38 Royland Road... It was a spacious place and it definitely grew on us. When we arrived the place was pretty empty, the main concern was the lack of wifi and televisions. What were we going to do with our evenings?!?! We were forced to socialise with each other, which was actually quite pleasant, I recommend it! It was actually pretty useful when we were rehearsing, we had room to practice fights and dances and no TV to distract us, just two sofas and a table, so we spent our evenings mostly at the table learning lines and practicing songs. Over time the place got a make over, we managed to get hold of some kitchen essentials, wifi, Tom brought up a lamp from home and at Christmas Alice and Tom decorated the place with Poundlands best and Alan brought a little Christmas tree for the table. It was a shame to leave by the end!
On the 8th we started rehearsals, we arrived at Loughborough Town Hall and had our model box presentation (which is one of my favourite parts of rehearsals) and a meet and greet with the whole company. Before long we were knees deep in rehearsals... literally. I was playing All of The Merry Men, one being Little John, the vertically challenged merry man. The costume meant I was on my knees with false legs attached to my waist, so I literally spent rehearsals on my knees. As well as Little John I also played Friar Tuck who rapped Will Smith's "Gettin' Jiggy Wit It" in the opening number (definitely a career highlight) and Will Scarlett the camp and fabulous merry man.
As well those already mentioned, my other cast mates were James (Dame Nanny Nora Nightnurse), Kris (Much The Millers Son), Alice (Maid Marian) and Kathrine (Fairy Fern), we also had three teams of children. Rehearsals took place in a beautiful function room at the town hall and were directed by Morgan Brind, musically directed by Dan Smith and choreographed by Danielle Stanley. We also had a few fight rehearsals with Ian Stapleton.
The show itself went down a storm, we had some fantastic reviews including a 5★ review from The Stage who went on to name us one of the top pantomimes this Christmas! I spent the majority of the show quick-changing in the wings. In the first act you met Friar Tuck and Little John and at the start of the second act you met Will Scarlett. As the show progressed the more ridiculous my costume changes became. It started of subtle but by the end I was running on and off stage every other second while the audience laughed at my struggle, the final reveal was when King Richard demanded he met all the merry men, to which I ran off and back on inside a massive three person puppet. Little John at the front, Myself (Will Scarlet) in the middle and Friar Tuck behind... Me and my puppet then proceeded to do a Village People medley ending with all three of us doing the YMCA.
As well as Friar Tuck rapping and my three person puppet my other favourite part of my track was having a quarterstaff fight as Little John on my knees. I had never worked with quarterstaff before so this was very exciting, or was exciting, until Tom told me how the last show he fought quarterstaff in, he broke his thumb. Luckily we had a pretty safe run! The fight itself was just ridiculous, it was quite an impressive fight but being on my knees everything was just outrageous. The fight climaxed as Robin swung for my legs and in slow motion Little John jumped and hovered in the air like a Jackie Chan movie. It got such a reaction from the audience, yet all I was doing was standing up. The magic of theatre!
This is a video of one of our fight calls. Unfortunately we stop at the slow motion bit.
As we were all staying close by we were able to spend our days off together and evenings eating pizza and watching christmas films! Loughborough was a lovely town, It had some gorgeous independent crafty shops (perfect for gift buying), a beautiful park and some great pubs! If you're ever in the area, make sure you visit the Organ Grinder, fantastic pub with an open fire and a wide selection of ales from the brewery upstairs - Blue Monkey. We also traveled to the Peak District a few times, we went to Matlock Bath, Buxton (to see Sleeping Beauty at the Opera House, as my friend Matt from Paw Patrol was playing Silly Billy), Arbor Low Stone Circle, which was just beautiful, covered in snow
and Bakewell... to obviously get a Bakewell pudding which, I learnt, is different from a Bakewell tart!
Tarts and puddings weren't the only thing I learnt about whilst I was there, I also learnt how to knit! During spare time in the dressing rooms, Kathrine taught me how to knit (and how to pearl AND decrease (still yet to do increasing)), again this was perfect for Christmas, I made Kate and her mum a scarf and myself and Kate a wooly hat!
All in all we had a great run, the cast were an absolute dream and the crew at Little Wolf and the Town Hall were some of the friendliest and most welcoming people I have worked with.
Thanks for reading, heres a glitter beard.