Santa Claus, The Musical at Worthing’s Pavilion Theatre this Christmas offers Carys Gray and fiancé Andrew Edwards a rare chance to work together.
They met on a production of Mel Brooks’ The Producers; this festive season in Worthing, they will be working together for the first time since.
“It’s great,” says Carys. “He is usually going off to do a job somewhere else, or I am. For both of us actually to be in the same place will make a change!
“It might be a bit strange. ‘How was work today?’ ‘You know! You were there!’ But our families are looking forward to us doing something together rather than individually. He is the baddie and I am the goodie. It will be lovely!”
The show comes from London-based producers Paul Holman Associates, for whom Carys has previously played the roles of Fairy Bow Belle in Dick Whittington (Weston-super-Mare), the Lilac Fairy in Sleeping Beauty (Porthcawl and Redhill), and Mrs Darling and the Mermaid in Peter Pan (Derby, Weston-super-Mare and Broxbourne).
But this time, the show is something rather different. Everyone is going to have to be on best behaviour to remember not to call it a panto – which it isn’t. The clue is in the title. It’s a musical – a Christmas family musical.
But as Carys points out, there might be a few familiar panto elements, such as the fact that everyone will know all the songs.
The Christmas show had its world premiere at the Mayflower Theatre, Southampton, in 2005 to huge public acclaim. Santa Claus, The Musical has gone on to entertain thousands of people from Southampton to Singapore, with tracks including Jingle Bell Rock, Here comes Santa Claus and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.
“I have worked with Paul Holman before. This must be my eighth or ninth show for them, which is nice. It means they say ‘What do you want to do?’, which is the actor’s dream. When they found out that they had got this show, they just said that I should be Mrs Drift and what did I reckon. I read it and I loved it.
“Mrs Drift is Santa’s secretary,” says Carys, whose recent theatrical roles include Ethel in Footloose (UK tour), Angie in the UK premiere production of The Wedding Singer and Hold Me Touch Me in the UK tour of The Producers.
“The costumes are the height of North Pole fashion, and I am very much looking forward to creating a relationship with Santa, which isn’t something I thought I would ever say. He exists! He really does!
“It is also really funny. We were laughing with Paul Holman about it, seeing what I have got to wear, all the costumes. I said ‘I know! I realise! I am the dame!’ She has got all these lovely flamboyant costumes!”
Speaking before rehearsals had even started, Carys admitted that the character of Mrs Drift was to extent a blank canvas: “But I will certainly be hoping to put my own tilt on it.”
It will be hard work, Carys is under no illusions: “I was talking to a friend, and we were saying that pantomime is one of the hardest disciplines in an actor’s life, two shows a day for ten days and then you get a day off. And this show is going to be pretty much the same thing – except being a musical, it will be even harder.”
Santa Claus, The Musical is at Worthing’s Pavilion Theatre from December 11 until January 5 2014. Tickets are available from Worthing Theatres on 01903 206206 or online at www.worthingtheatres.co.uk.