Cinders delights in home-town panto on the Portsmouth stage

Emily Day gets to play Cinderella for the first time as she embarks on her fifth panto.

Cinders and her sisters - Cinderella NRTP 2021
Cinders and her sisters - Cinderella NRTP 2021

She is delighted to be doing so at the New Theatre Royal in Portsmouth, the city where she was born and grew up and where her family still lives.

“I grew up in Waterlooville actually, and I moved away when I was 18 and went to ArtsEd to do their foundation course and then I went to PPA in Guildford. I had a great time there. It was like a big family atmosphere. They really, really looked after you. I graduated about four years ago but when I was there it was still really quite new and they were really pushing for the industry people to come in and see us.”

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Before that, she did plenty of shows in Portsmouth including a number of shows at the Kings and also one show – she can’t quite remember which – at the New Theatre Royal. It’s great to be back there again – and great to be on stage.

“The pandemic has been hard. When Covid hit, I got a job working at Wickes. I was there for a whole year. I was lucky because trying to find a job was quite hard and that was really the only thing going. At first I quite enjoyed it because we were so busy and it reminded me of when I used to help my dad doing little jobs, but after a couple of months I thought I am hating this and I need to get away.

“And luckily I got a job with a Christmas show called Dear Santa and it was meant to be touring the UK which was really exciting. But when we went into Tier 4, a month with the show turned into a week performing in Peterborough and then I had to go back to Wickes. That was tough and I just carried on at Wicks. I had been working on a TV show and I ended up being stand-by for that. It was good experience and auditions then started happening and I was lucky enough to get Cinderella and also The Wizard of Oz. The Wizard of Oz was meant to be in October and February in Wales but then Wales was thinking about going into another lockdown and they decided to cancel the October bit. I wasn’t very lucky with that one!

“But it’s great to be doing Cinderella now. I have done Snow White; I’ve done Beauty And The Beast twice; and I’ve done Aladdin but I have not done Cinderella before. Panto seems to be one of those jobs that I just manage to secure every year. I don’t know if it’s because it suits my casting or the type of performer that I am but I love it. It’s just great fun. My mum always used to take me to the panto when I was little and I used to want to be on the stage and now I am!”

Buttons will be played by Michael Burgen and Prince Charming by Lucy Andic. The Ugly Sisters will be played by double act Harry Howle and Chris Aukett.

Cinderella is at Portsmouth’s New Theatre Royal this Christmas from December 15-31 – the first time in more than five decades that New Theatre Royal has staged a traditional pantomime. Dick Whittington was the last classic pantomime performed on the Portsmouth stage in 1965, starring Dick Emery and Charles Hawtrey.