Jack rings the changes as fairy godmother in Pompey panto

Jack EdwardsJack Edwards
Jack Edwards
Jack Edwards is promising “crazy and unpredictable” as he enters new territory for the Kings panto in Southsea this Christmas.

He's played ugly sisters in the past and he's played the Dame, but this year he's ringing the changes as Portsmouth's Fairy Godmother from December 2-31: “We have played with the casting and we're always looking to have different elements in the show. I've played ugly sister a number of times around the country and the last time we did Cinderella here I played the Baroness in 2017. Now I'm dame and people expect a dame character and so you've just got to find a way to make it work so we thought about me doing the fairy godmother. Usually the fairy godmother is the narrator, the traditional role that keeps the story flowing but we decided to think outside the box and we just decided ‘Let's have a fairy godmother that causes mayhem. She is earning her wings and it's going to be great fun.”

Jack will be relying on his instincts and judgement. His panto performances are always hugely based on involving the audience and addressing them directly: “You jump in and you talk to the audience and I don't let anyone get away with anything. If a member of the cast has said something wrong, then I will make sure that the audience knows but at the same time you have got to be disciplined. What I do might look very undisciplined but it actually is disciplined. You've got to know how far you can go. There's certainly chaos but in panto you have to have a licence. If everybody had a licence to create chaos, then the whole thing will fall apart. Someone like Cinderella herself has to lead the plot and have the chaos all around her.”

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This year's panto continues the Kings’ new tradition of producing their pantomimes in-house which has proved absolutely the right decision in recent years: “The massive thing is that we are a charity and we keep the money. If you have a third-party producer coming in then the third-party producer is going to take a huge slice of the cake. But also doing it in-house means that you keep control of everything. We know what Pompey likes. We know what our audience enjoys. But also one of the things about pantomime is that it is such a huge financial risk but we are really comfortable with our fabulous audience, our fantastically loyal audience. We really feel we know what they want. And the point is that pantomime is a lifeline for theatres. If it goes badly I'm not going to say that we would be shutting down, but if it goes well, then it makes such a difference to the year, and this is going to be a great show.”

A great show in a challenging year: “Portsmouth is notorious for booking at the last minute. It is squeaky bum time every time you have a show. You are two weeks out and you're just holding your breath and then when the show arrives it sells really well and you're absolutely fine. And now we have got the additional challenge of the cost of living crisis. But we have opened the gallery and we have numbered the seats and it's the cheaper option. You still get the experience but all the seats up there are £10 for every performance; we've released something like 16,500 seats in the gallery, all at £10 pounds each.”