Over the last 6 months, I spent a lot of my time with a pantomime company, at PwC, in the cast of Sleeping Beauty 2019. This was a very special experience for me as I’ve always dreamed of performing in the West End but never did I think that would come true! So as we pack away the glitter and costumes for another year (minus a mini trip to Ireland at the beginning of April), I wanted to share some the highlights with you!
The history of the PwC Pantomime
The PwC Pantomime started out 33 years ago at the Chaucer Theatre, London, in 1987. Since then, it’s grown to be a full-scale production running for a week (8 shows) in the West End and touring to a second UK city for another four shows.
Our objective is simple: to give kids an experience that brings them joy and, hopefully, nurtures a life-long love of the performing arts. Each year tickets are given to between 7000 and 9000 children depending on the capacity of the touring theatre. We organise free transportation to and from the theatre, and a goody bag, courtesy of some of our generous sponsors.
Every year we sponsor a different charity and this year we were supporting UK Youth. Their vision is that all young people are empowered to build bright futures, whatever their background or circumstances and I think this is so important, so it’s great that we were able to share this experience and support them. I don’t know how much money we’ve raised yet but I will update here when I do know and thank you to everyone who donated!
Behind the scenes
Each year approximately 200 PwC employees are involved in creating what starts out as an idea, or a vision, and finishes as a full-scale theatre production. This means that even if you’re not someone who loves performing on stage, there are plenty of other roles for you to get involved in.
Some of these roles and teams include:
> the creative team (director, assistant directors, head choreographer, musical director)
> music arrangers
> wardrobe, making all of our amazing costumes
> props, a much harder role than you’d expect
> stage manager & crew, they make the magic happen backstage – it’s fascinating
> the production team
> kids volunteers.
It’s crazy to see how much work goes on behind the scenes to make a show like this possible, and it’s all on top of our day jobs! It’s a big commitment from everyone but totally worth it, and one of the best things about it is that you get to meet so many different people from across the firm which is a reason in itself to get involved.
It is a lot of hard work, late nights and weekends and is tiring but we’re a community and we go through that experience together, which brings us closer as a team and makes it special. Without every single person’s input, we couldn’t have done it! And the main reason I wanted to get involved is because it’s just really good fun!
Sleeping Beauty 2019
So what was the show about? Well, our brilliant scriptwriter, Ben Gasson, helped director Niamh Gasson bring her version of Sleeping Beauty to life and it went a little something like this…
Princess Aurora is approaching her 18th birthday. Caring and kind, she is loved by all but is currently trying to avoid the many wealthy princes her mother, Queen Borealis, has invited to the palace.
However, unwanted suitors are the least of her problems… Aurora is completely unaware that the evil fairy Insomnia placed a curse on her as a baby, and that the two henchmen, Snore and Snooze, are lurking not far away.
Luckily Aurora’s three fairy godmothers are there to help, along with chef Cheryl Bakewell, Silly Billy, the court jester, and her pet dragon, Diddy. Things are also looking up on the prince front with the arrival of George and his companion Derek.
Princess Aurora is put under a wicked spell by Insomnia, the evilest fairy in all the land. The palace falls asleep and it’s up to Prince George, Derek and friends to save the day! But will they get past Insomnia and her henchmen?
Imagine lots of fairies, princes trying their luck, dancing fruit, car chases, evil spirits and lots of singing along to hit tunes including Hold On, Came Her For Love, The Middle and This is Me! All I can say is that I’m lucky to be surrounded by such a talented group of people, it was a pleasure!
It’s difficult to pin point my favourite part of the experience and shows because I enjoyed it all so much however I did want to mention some of the highlights.
- Meeting so many wonderful, caring, funny people to spend my time with, who I can now call friends!
- Choreographing and teaching The Middle
- Finding out that I can ‘sort of’ sing or hold a tune
- Walking in through the stage door pretending we were celebrities for the first time (who am I kidding… every time)!
- The hours spent in the dressing room sorting hair, make up, eye lashes and costumes whilst dancing and singing along to power tunes with the girls
- Dancing as a pineapple with the BEST headdress you’ve ever seen and a new name ‘Happy Pineapple’
- The absolute roar from the audiences during and at the end of each show. It was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced!
- Signing autographs – who would’ve thought anyone would want my autograph!?
- Prank night!
- TOUR – just everything about tour was so much fun, especially exploring Newcastle, going on a tour of the theatre which was beautiful, dancing in cheesy clubs, the evening games over dinner and of course the big celebration on the last evening!
So there you have a little window into the making of the PwC Pantomime, why it’s so important and hopefully it’s inspired you to think about what you could get involved in! It’s been an experience I’ll treasure and who knows, perhaps I’ll be back next year?! We’ll have to wait and see.
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