It’s that time of year again (oh no it isn’t!) where a great panto like Buttons: A Cinderella Story at King’s Head Theatre can provide all the festive feels. It will guarantee a Yuletide buzz just like your nan gets from sherry or when the drums drop on the Eastenders Christmas Special.
I have to admit, I was a little unsure of where to start with pantos this year. I’d been last year to see Rapunzel in Hertford Theatre and accidentally ended up in a school showing, where, bar the teachers, I was the oldest person in the audience by a good 20+ years.
However, at that very panto, I was lucky enough to see Jennie Jacobs give an astonishing performance as the Wicked Witch. So much so, she had to cheerily wave goodbye to the droves of children in the theatre foyer at the end to prove she wasn’t evil.
When I heard that this year, Jennie is playing Prince Charming in Buttons: A Cinderella Story with Charles Court Opera at the Kings Head Theatre, London, I was keen to find out about how the shift from ‘baddie to goodie’ and ‘Wicked Witch to Prince Charming’ was set to dazzle more audiences this year.
What’s it like playing Prince Charming?
It’s exhilarating and exhausting in equal measure! The role requires so much energy. He’s larger than life in everything he does, vocally and physically… but it’s an absolute joy!
How does this role compare to other panto roles you’ve played?
I’ve only ever played baddies in panto. I must have an evil face. However, SPOILER ALERT: This role is far darker than any other villain I’ve played. Funnier too!
Do you prefer playing a goody or a villain?
Oh, a villain for sure. I’m a character actress to the core. The more faces I can pull, the better. Plus, I’m starting to really enjoy getting booed.
Why are pantos so important for kids’ experiences at the theatre?
For the majority of kids, panto is their first experience in a theatre. It’s magic for them. People forget it’s the first time children are seeing these stock characters parading around in what adults consider classic tales. Of course they’re classic to us – weve known about them our entire lives. But image seeing Cinderella for the first time live! We have a big responsibility as actors to deliver amazing shows to every one of those kids, because we’re making memories for them.
Tell me about what we can expect from Buttons: A Cinderella Story panto?
High-octane, thigh-slapping, ROFLing for audience members young and old! But it’s not your average panto. There’s brilliant original music by David Eaton, some cheeky covers, and a few unexpected plot twists…
What’s the best thing about being in a panto?
Getting laughs is my crack. [NOT SURE YOU CAN PRINT THIS?!] [HI JENNIE – YES- I AM GOING TO PRINT THIS] Also, It’s a long run and you quickly realise that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. It really enables you to hone your craft. And it’s a joy to be in work for the season, with a cracking team of people.
This panto has ‘adult only’ performances. Why?
We tend to get very rowdy crowds on the adult nights, so if you love a bit of effing and jeffing, you can guffaw as loud as you want without any awkward questions from the kids in the interval.
What sets this panto apart from other Christmas pantos?
Its seriously funny. Not just panto funny. There are jokes in it that I’m still laughing at when I’m backstage every night…and I’ve known them for two months.
Buy tickets for Buttons: A Cinderella Story at the Kings Head Theatre (with performances until until 5th January at 3pm and 7pm including ‘adults only’ performances) here https://system.spektrix.com/kingsheadtheatre/website/eventdetails.aspx?WebEventId=panto