Since I graduated I’ve always aimed for a varied career, I’ve not wanted to be pigeonholed as one particular type of actor – I’d like to think I’ve made the most of any opportunities that have come my way.
My starting point at performing was Eisteddfodau and local groups like the young farmers; then when I was 11 I was accepted to Ysgol Glanaethwy (the performing arts school) in Bangor. It was when I was in my teens that I began to realise that a career in performing was a viable option – my love of performing has always been there but once I realised I could do it full time there was no turning back. My very first job after I left college was Theatr Genedlaethol’s production of Spring Awakening, my favourite musical at the time, which set me on the road to an acting career.
I’ve come to see the Theatr Clwyd rock ‘n’ roll panto several times in the past and thoroughly enjoyed it, particularly the actor/musician dynamic with all the actors on stage playing instruments, acting and singing, so it’s quite a privilege for me to actually be in Sleeping Beauty this year playing Morgana, the wicked witch. She’s a very pragmatic woman, ends justify the means, and she loves to be the centre of attention. She likes to think she owns the stage! I’ve always said that if I was ever in a panto that I’d love to be the baddie or Peter Pan as it’s always struck me as great fun. At my audition they gave me the script for both Morgana and Fairy Fanciful – deep down I really wanted to play Morgana. Then when I got the part, the script came through, and I saw that I had to sing [Michael Jackson’s] Bad, I was even more excited.
In the show I play alto saxophone, keyboards and synths – I almost had to learn how to play the drums but Tayo [Akinbode], our Musical Director, decided that wasn’t such a great idea! I love that I’ve been able to pick up the saxophone properly again and re-kindle my passion for it. The arrangements are gorgeous – really funky. For the first time in my life I feel so cool being part of a band – as a team we’re really in tune with each other and there’s a real camaraderie which is exactly what you need for a show like this where you’re working with the company for three months or more.
One skill that I’ve had to learn is how to use a wand and now ‘wandography’ is definitely something that I can put on my CV. I absolutely love my costumes, all bespoke creations designed by Adrian Gee and made here at Theatr Clwyd, with lots of green and lots of glitter!
So far the show has been brilliant but what’s surprised me is how much stamina it takes. We’ve just done six shows in three days; you wouldn’t do that in the West End. In the rock’n’ roll panto you’re always on stage and that’s where it differs from other pantos; if I’m not saying something I’m at another part of the stage playing something or I’m doing backing vocals, so it’s very demanding from beginning to end, but also hugely enjoyable. From the audiences, I expected booing and hissing but I didn’t expect the schools audiences to be SO vocal. It’s incredible just how involved the schoolchildren have been. They absolutely love dabbing, so that’s another thing I’ve become quite good at…I think!
For Christmas, all my present buying has gone out of the window but I’ve just managed to get all my cards posted, so everyone will get cards. Home is Llangadfan in Montgomeryshire, so I’ll be able to get back for Christmas Day and return early on Boxing Day. Most of my family are farmers, so they haven’t been able to get up here to see it but my Mam, Nain and brother are coming on Dec 27th. Mam had a massive crush on George Michael when she was younger and we do Wake Me Up Before You Go Go. Her words were ‘do it justice’!
After this panto my dream job would be a BBC period drama. I was once told in an audition that I had a ‘timeless face’; I didn’t get the job but it didn’t matter because I was so happy with that comment! I hope that I relish any role that comes up because, so far, I’ve been lucky to have had a wide variety of jobs working with a host of lovely, creative people and I’ve enjoyed them all.
I’ve wanted to work at Theatr Clwyd ever since that Theatr Gen tour all those years ago, when I discovered the Green Room here! The welcome we’ve all had here from everyone has been exceptional; I’ve always known Theatr Clwyd creates good work and have always wanted to work here so being here for my first panto is just amazing. I’ve been well and truly spoilt, and I’m having a WICKED time.