Susan Wilson has directed the Circa Panto since 2005. She tells how it began and why she loves doing them.
How did it happen that you started directing the Panto at Circa?
Sometime in 2003 Roger Hall, Paul Jenden and I were discussing Pantos when we were in the foyer at Circa one evening and we all said how much we had loved them as kids and how enjoyable they were and how they have influenced us and our choice of career. Paul and I particularly recalled David Tinkham and his marvellous Pantos in the Opera House which we had seen with our parents and what a memorable and influential experience it was. Roger Hall agreed, recalling his own childhood experiences in the UK and said he would love to write a Panto for Circa. He had been wanting to do so for some time and had also been talking to Ray Henwood about it. So off we went with Cinderella. Never expecting to be still celebrating Panto in 2016
You have worked on many of the Pantos with musical director Michael Nicholas Williams – there is obviously a great comradery built up during that time.
Michael and I always seem to have a good time we get along really well and can speak our own shortcut Panto language as we go along. Anyone listening in would think we were crazy. I really do admire Michael’s extraordinary talent and I’m so grateful he has been with us from the very beginning, always patient and good humoured and full of enthusiasm. I’m always sad Paul Jenden is no longer with us but of course all his song lyrics are there and many of his costumes are still recycled into new clothes Panto outfits.
What are the most memorable moments?
All my favourite moments are to do with the children coming up on stage and performing with the actors. No matter how big or how small those extra actors are, they are amazing in the way they participate, learn songs and become part of the story. The actors always enjoy working with the children and sometimes the adults as well will join in. It’s sometimes hilarious playing to a full house of just adults who abandon their personas and turn into children and fully join in the fun.
Do you have a favourite Panto?
All the Pantos are my favourites according to which one I am working on. We have always been blessed with wonderfully talented casts who have brought much to each show by way of contributions, jokes and singing and dancing talent.
What makes the success of the Panto?
Panto is a way of leaving the outside world and all its troubles behind for an hour or two of fun and joining in the old stories which we all know. It’s a great opportunity for young and old to get together at the same place in the same story land and have a great time.
All the productions have been successful because they are a family show with fun and jokes and participation for both old and young and everyone in between!
I would like to congratulate Roger Hall for all his wonderful scripts and congratulations to him for staying the distance with us for so long and enduring endless re-writes.