It's panto time in Hastings!
Frances Dee is thrilled to be playing Maid Marion – opposite Brendan Cole as Robin Hood – in Hastings’ panto this Christmas.
The show plays the White Rock Theatre from Wednesday, December 15-Friday, December 31.
“I am so pleased to be back in panto,” Frances says, “and I think it is just so important for audiences. Everybody has had such a hard time and everybody has waited two years for this.
“Actually I was lucky. I have been working. I was doing Anything Goes at the Barbican in London. So I’ve been back on stage for a while. We opened in August and so we have had a good run on the stage.
“And I also did get to play panto last year in Chelmsford but just for a week before we had to shut. Obviously we were all devastated. We had been waiting so long and we were having such good fun even though we were having to have such small audiences, 150 people maximum in a theatre that could take 600.
“It was the weirdest pantomime. The audience couldn’t shout out and they couldn’t make any noise. There was no booing. There were no ‘He’s behind you’s’ but everybody just loved it and it was such a happy experience. People were just so excited to be back in the theatre again... and then suddenly nothing.
“When the pandemic first started I worked in Sainsbury’s doing night shifts and then I was working at home doing online conferences. It was a lot of stuff on Zoom for me and I got to know a lot about investments through the conferences I was doing!
“But this is going to be such a joy and full of happiness now, and the music is incredible and everybody is so thrilled to be back. And I do think everybody going into the theatre will feel that this is so much more special and important this year.
“It has certainly completely changed my attitude. I never felt it was just a job. It’s something that you are really passionate about but just to be back is so lovely, being able to make other people happy as well. You can have two and a half hours where you can just forget everything that’s going on around you and just concentrate on having fun. This is my third panto. I have previously been Sleeping Beauty so I’m going to have to be awake for all of this one! Well, I hope so!
“But panto is just the most fun that you can have on the stage as an actor and I love the audience participation. It is so important for young people who are often having their first experience of the theatre when they come along to panto, their first experience of live music and the stage.
“And I always like to think that there is somebody watching who will be inspired to go on and do it themselves…”