A star-studded online pantomime involving a director from The Lowry has been created for people to watch from their homes to help make up for theatres being closed.
‘Once Upon a Pantomime’ has been created by Anton Benson Productions to keep the British Christmas tradition alive during the pandemic.
The show features more than 17 celebrities including Kerry Katona, Gareth Gates and ITV The Chase stars, Anne Hegarty and Mark Labbett.
In addition to this, the script is brand new and it is advertised for £15 for a show that lasts an hour and a half.
The performance was filmed at The Rhyl Pavilion where all of the actors were Covid tested before rehearsals.
Director Kate Salmon has helped to organise the production of the online show.
In November 2019, she also directed ‘Justice: The Musical’ at The Lowry Theatre based on Netflix’s ‘Making a Murderer’.
Kate explained that: “theatre is not where it should be, in fact it has ceased in the past few months. By September, they knew that a live performance was not going to happen so ‘[they] only got a quick turnover.
‘’Don’t get me wrong the actual rehearsal week was utterly bonkers but we rehearsed it in 3 days and we filmed it in one day.’’
She stated: “We were so lucky as when we booked this in the middle of lockdown. It worked out perfectly as Wales was open.
“It created over 30 new jobs for the crew and cast and because of the nature of the project everybody was on board.
Although, she highlighted that the challenges of coronavirus “threw a huge spanner in the works” as the filming of it was completely different.
‘’Face to face rehearsal had to be managed so we did zoom rehearsals prior to that.”
The producers also needed to check whether the cast would be happy to do pantomime in a Covid world.
Furthermore, Kate said: “This might be a new way of managing theatre and how we do things.
‘’Christmas is not cancelled because we have tried to put on a really good show and [we are] trying to bring that British tradition out there for everyone to see.’’
Hannah Hobley, known for her role as ‘Chantelle’ from ITV’s Benidorm, enjoyed her time performing with over 17 other celebrities.
She expressed that it was “The best panto script that [she had] ever read”.
“All of Anton’s favourite names came back and all agreed to do this and it was really quite surreal.”
Ms Hobley found the rehearsals to be “really intense but the best kind of intense but it was so well organised and it worked like clockwork.”
‘’We only had essentially one take to be able to get our scene right [but] everybody learnt what they needed to do, they brought their a-game and it ran like a dream.’’
What a treat, we are loving an online ‘Once upon a pantomime’ it’s so much fun ‘Oh yes it is!’ #StOlavesPrepChristmas #StOlavesPrepFun Congratulations and thank you @OnceUponAPanto fab story, great singing and lots of familiar faces ❤️⭐️ pic.twitter.com/pCpE1X34tQ
— Year 2 | St Olave’s Prep School (@StOlavesYr2) December 14, 2020
Hannah stated that the most difficult bit was “not having the feedback which you as a performer, you feed off that energy.”
Although, she highlighted that “It felt so good to be in a theatre and it felt so good standing on a stage again.”
Kate and Hannah encourage the people of Salford to support the arts and buy tickets from www.antonbensonproductions.com