Aylesbury Waterside Theatre Cinderella cast gears up for Pantomime season

Christmas will be here before you know it

By James Lowson
Friday, 22nd October 2021, 11:09 am
Updated Friday, 22nd October 2021, 11:10 am

The 2021 cast for Cinderella were fully kitted out on Wednesday (October 20), at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre ahead of pantomime season.

This year's production at Aylesbury is led by a cast including: Waterside veterans: La Voix of Britain's Got Talent fame and BBC Three Counties' Andy Collins.

They will be performing alongside children's television stars: Mark Rhodes and Gemma Naylor who play Dandini and Cinderella respectively.

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2021 Cinderella cast

All the main players dressed up for a photo shoot and media day, signalling Christmas is nearly upon us.

Alongside the four television veterans were this year's ugly sisters: Kristopher Milnes and production director Chris Nelson.

Pantomime season runs from Friday December 3 to January 2 in Aylesbury, just over one month out from the festivities the cast gathered for promotional photos and to discuss this year's production with the press.

Two themes emerged from Wednesday's interview sessions, everyone is eager to return to the stage after a desperately challenging period for the arts industry.

La Voix and Andy Collins

And the whole cast is expecting chaos when they perform 12 Days of Christmas.

An Aylesbury tradition suggests the cast can expect a baying crowd of excitable school children firing super soakers in their direction, when the famous Christmas song is performed.

Andy told the Bucks Herald: "I've already done some big gigs, people are just ready for a party. A lot of these guys and girls haven't yet had that.

"It's going to be amazing. That first night...every night is going to be amazing. I think everyone is up for having a really good time.

Mark Rhodes

"We've got seven 10:30 shows which are just schools and the kids come in and experience panto for the first time. I know every performer says it, but their first look into the world of theatre is important.

"We've got to give people a really good time and the values here at this theatre and production company are really high.

"I've worked on shows in the past and in theatres that will remain nameless, where their talent have coasted. That doesn't happen here. Chris our director won't let that happen. I won't let that happen. La Voix, definitely won't let that happen.

"Every year we do 12 Days of Christmas, as you know, and every year the punters bring bigger and bigger water pistols and I can't compete."

Mark Rhodes who has been entertaining children and families for years on various CBBC broadcasts with his partner in crime Sam Nixon, explained his love of pantomime to the Bucks Herald.

He said: "I love the live element, I love interacting with the audience and I prefer that in telly as well. Obviously myself and Sam when we do Crackerjack, the audience is there and they're involved in the show itself, which we absolutely love.

"I think a lot of families are chomping at the bit to get back to theatre. People have missed out on 18 months of socialising.

"When we knew we'd got the green light to do it, I couldn't have been happier.

"It's been hard for a lot of the people in this industry. I feel as though we have been pushed to the side a little bit, with us being one of the first places to stop and one of the last places to open up again."

Mark went on to explain what audiences should look out for this year, adding: "There's loads of gags, humour, audience participation, and I think after the 18 months people have had, that's all they want.

"They just want to come and watch the show and have an hour, two hours of escapism and that's what we can give them."

Chris the director who also stars in this year's production further explained what Aylesbury audiences should be looking out for. He said: "We always have some tricks up our sleeves...be prepared, but I think this year, this is my seventh.

"I think this year is the most musical of all of them, we've got some phenomenal numbers. I genuinely am looking forward to being in the rehearsal room. It's going to be the best karaoke set ever.

"We've got some really great modern numbers which all the families and particularly kids will love. We've got some banging 80s tunes and a few brilliant musical theatre numbers. Some of those are comedy numbers, but genuinely good pop songs. We've got some brilliant singers."

The director also mentioned his enjoyment in preparing a show ready for some potentially raucous Aylesbury crowds, he said: "We're in a battle with the audience to see who can be the most energised. We've made a rod for our own back really, but that's what it is all about.

"We have to factor in that audience interaction, there's certain routines we've become known for, whether they're in or not this year, you'll have to wait and see.

"We see it as a team, we can't go on stage without them and it's not very funny if we're not there either. I feel so blessed being here, because they are so supportive."

Tickets can be booked on the Ambassador Theatre Group website now or by calling 0844 871 7615.