Cast of Ipswich Regent’s Sleeping Beauty share their best and worst pantomime moments
- Credit: Archant
When pantomime works it’s great. When it doesn’t, it can still be great; for the audience if not the performers. The cast of this year’s Ipswich Regent pantomime, Sleeping Beauty, share their best and worst moments with entertainment writer Wayne Savage.
David Phipps-Davis (Dame Nora)
Singing Sisters are Doin’ It for Themselves with Sheila Ferguson twice a day takes some beating. I’ve not had many bad moments in panto, but not getting on with the comic you’re playing opposite can be a bit of a nightmare; even if the audience can’t tell. Luckily Mike McClean and I get on really well.
I once made my entrance and the fire alarm went off. The house technicians hadn’t isolated the smoke detector and a pyro had set it off so I ended up in full dame garb sheltering from the wind at the wheel of a minibus in the car park.
During the final scene of a different panto, the power failed - we later found out for the whole street - we finished the show in emergency lighting and no microphones. My operatic training came in handy that day.
Keith Jack (Prince Joseph)
One of my favourite pantomime memories was a panto I did in Glasgow where the cloth didn’t go all the way up and I turned to walk upstage to get on the magic carpet and cracked my head on the cloth.
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The girl playing Jasmine couldn’t stop laughing, as did the audience. We still went under the cloth to sing A Whole New World but it didn’t go up any further, We came back through and tried to keep singing but between the audience and us laughing it was just too much to handle. We laughed all the way through and the comic continued to point out what had happened during the whole show.
Sheila Ferguson (Carabosse)
I’m usually the Good Fairy. I suppose coming off stage and crying to my dresser the first time I got booed playing The Wicked Queen is kinda funny, now. Thus a low point because I didn’t understand. Duh?
I worked with Enchanted Entertainment last year. I did Carlise which I never want to see again because we had all the floods. It was an absolute nightmare, wearing wellington boots and climbing over a roundabout to get to the entrance. I started resenting them (audiences) for even coming out, she laughs. What are you doing out in this weather? So many people lost their homes, their furniture was outside. It was sad.
Rehearsals are very arduous, every year the rehearsal period is shorter and shorter you don’t have a long time to lock the lines and to deal with the changes, the lighting, the setting... I’m quite a good adlibber. she laughs. So everybody goes okay Ferguson’s on, everybody get ready because they don’t where I’m going to jump to. If I get flummoxed I’ll jump to the end of my speech. They say Sheila you can’t go quite that fast, we can’t keep up with you. I say oh shucks, you need to get faster.
There have been so many high points, I can’t pick one. It’s the children. Giving such love to so many children makes me happy. They give it back.
Alice Redmond (Fairy Fortywinks)
My best panto moment was when I was playing one of the comedy duo and we got to raid the audience. I got someone’s sleeping bag they had for a sleepover that night, unravelled it and wore it in the next scene.
The worst was when I walked into the proscenium arch and fell over. I couldn’t get up because I had such a massive dress on and had to be dragged off. It must have looked hysterical to the audience.
Mike McClean (Chester the Jester)
My best panto moment is when you get a laugh from a gag you have written or a routine you came up with. Also working with someone you just click with, I did that with Larry Lamb a couple of years back. He was Captain Hook and I was Smee and we just got on like a house on fire. We’re still good friends now. My worst is being away from my boys (Carter and Cooper) for that period. That said they are used to it and love seeing the shows so it’s still not that bad.
Wayne Bavin (King Cole)
My best panto memory has to be last year when I was lucky enough to be part of the cast of Aladdin at the Ipswich Regent.
I’ve worked with many famous faces over the years but in Aladdin I got to work with Paul Daniels, a man I had watched on the telly since I was a child.
During the rehearsals for Aladdin I got to know Paul and his wife Debbie McGee quite well and found out we had a lot in common. We were both originally from Middlesbrough and my dad went to the same school as Paul.
Sadly just a couple of months after Paul had finished panto in Ipswich he passed away. It was a pleasure and an honour getting to know him as he was a great performer who loved what he did and this has to be my best panto memory.
Ella Gilling (Sleeping Beauty)
It’s my first pantomime and, I don’t think I should admit this, I’ve never seen one so it’s a very new experience for me. I’ve done a lot of musicals, shows and plays so I know how to work my way around a script to music numbers so I was really excited but a bit nervous.