Vicky Edwards relishing her seventh Bognor panto

Chichester’s Vicky Edwards, who is appearing in her seventh pantomime at Bognor’s Alexandra Theatre this Christmas admits: “Last year was so weird without panto!

Vicky Edwards (in orange) and Katie Bennett - Photo credit Your Event Photography
Vicky Edwards (in orange) and Katie Bennett - Photo credit Your Event Photography

“But boy are we going to make up for the Christmas that Covid stole!

“This year’s panto, Jack and the Beanstalk, is going to be the biggest fun-filled extravaganza ever – a giant of a panto!”

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And it’s not just pantomime that Vicky missed last year.

“The Alexandra Theatre is where some of the loveliest people, many of them volunteers, are to be found. The love, care and effort that they invest in the building and its shows is awe-inspiring.

“At Christmas we really are like one big happy family. We have as much fun off stage as we do on it.”

Full of praise for the efforts that Hazel Latus and her team at the theatre have put into ensuring the cleanliness of the building and the safety of audiences, Vicky says that visitors to the panto can feel confident in attending.

“Hopefully people will be sensible about monitoring their own health and not attending performances if they feel poorly, but the theatre is doing absolutely everything possible to keep the venue Covid secure.

“We know audiences missed panto last year.

“People have been so enthusiastic about this year’s show and have told us how much they missed that family outing, school trip or group visit last year.

“One of the most special things about pantomime is that it can be enjoyed equally by people of all ages from two to 102.

“It’s a great British tradition that is about as inclusive as you can get and (panto producers) Spillers are brilliant at casting the perfect mix of really experienced panto veterans with fresh talent.”

But while the pandemic stole panto from her last year, it did give Vicky something.

“I used lockdown to train as a celebrant for weddings, funerals, naming ceremonies – any and all kinds of ceremonies, actually. It was something I had been thinking about for a while as it matched my skill set.

“I love meeting people too so it really is a good fit for me. I set up Spot On Ceremonies and I’m delighted to say that I’m now being booked for weddings into 2024!

“And while occasions like weddings and naming ceremonies are utterly gorgeous to be part of, it’s an extraordinary privilege to lead funerals too.

“It’s such a sad and painful time for those left behind, so if you can make it even slightly less so by creating a service that really honours someone, well, that feels really special.”

Something else that feels special to Vicky is the cast for Jack and the Beanstalk. Delighted to be playing Queen Dafty, she is thrilled to be reunited with several actors with whom she has worked with on pantos past, including Katie Bennett.

“Katie played Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz the year before last and is wonderful.

“This year she’ll be my daughter, which is lovely.”

And Vicky’s real daughter, Lily, will also be taking to the stage this year in Chichester.

“Lily is in the Festival Theatre’s production of Pinocchio.

“Very sadly, I won’t be able to see her as the two schedules aren’t compatible. My day off falls just before Pinocchio opens, so it just doesn’t work.

“But it is fantastic that both Chichester and Bognor have shows going ahead this year.”

Vicky’s lips are sealed about the content of the panto.

“But I can reassure you that there is going to be an awful lot of Fi Fi Fo FUN to be had!

“And if anyone fancies getting married this Christmas then I can probably squeeze you in between a matinee and evening performance!”

Tickets for the panto are available from the venue via the website: www.alexandratheatre.co.uk