TaleGate Theatre has become a firm favourite at Parkway Cinema with their colourful, fun productions - ‘The Giant’s Loo Roll’ and ‘Father Christmas Comes Up Trumps!’ spring to mind. Their first ever production was the pantomime, ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ which is being revived just for Beverley this year and will be TaleGate’s first ever static pantomime. We were delighted to meet James who is producing ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’.
Just Beverley to James Worthington: How did you get into producing Panto?
JW: Panto has always been a passion of mine. My family has always been big on celebrating Christmas. It is such an important time for creating magical memories with friends and family. I was a jobbing actor and I worked for a production
company who weren't giving it their very best. I decided that it wasn't good enough and the British tradition of pantomime deserves love, care and attention to detail so I started producing myself.
JB: When do you start thinking about Christmas Panto’s?
JW: Would you believe me if I said we have already begun planning for 2019-2020 panto season? Honestly, it is a year-long job. From scriptwriting, production meetings with choreographers, sound and lighting designers etc. there are lots of jobs that need to be done before we can add the sparkle and glitter.
JB: What brought you to Beverley?
JW: Our co-founder, and now local drama teacher, Kate Lindsey, was born and bred in Beverley. Also, our choreographer, Laura Bulless, is from nearby Hull. Laura is well known in the area for working with East Riding Youth Dance, Wyke College and other primary schools in the area.
JB: How do you choose which Panto to produce?
JW: It’s a careful balance between what has been done in previous years and what is coming up in popular culture. Audiences like a classic tale done in an exciting and fresh way.
JB: Why Jack and the Beanstalk this year?
JW: Even though we have been regular visitors to Parkway with our Easter productions (Alice In Wonderland, Wizard of Oz), Halloween Spook-taculars (Harry Panto, Hocus Panto) and children’s musicals (The Giant’s Loo Roll and Father Christmas Needs a Wee) It is our first year producing the Christmas Pantomime at Parkway. We wanted to really give a GIANT performance so why not start with the BIGGEST panto of them all!
JB: How are the cast chosen, when do you start the process?
JW: This began in February this year. A casting goes up on all of the professional actors casting sites. We have a rigorous audition process including a dance call, singing and acting workshop. From this we are happy to welcome Alex Forman as Dame Trott and Daniel Chambers as our hero Jack. We also like to welcome back favourite performers we have worked with on previous tours. Coming back to the TaleGate family are Emma Clare as Fairy Organic, Fi Hudson as Slimebag and Megan Edmundson as Jill. We also have the privilege to have been working with 43 local dancers for our youth chorus. These dancers represent ten dance schools from Beverley and the surrounding area.
JB: Panto is all about the comedy, one liners and local links, when do you come up with the final script, do you encourage ad-libbing?
JW: The key element to panto is telling the story. We have a really strong script that tells a wonderfully charming story to the boys and girls. Once you have the story-telling right you can add the bells and whistles. A lot of the comedy moments are worked in the rehearsal room. The funniest moments can often happen by accident. Also, different audiences can change
the dynamics of the performance. Roll with the audience and what they are finding funny! We generally only allow the comedy characters to ad-lib though - if the entire cast ad- libbed, chaos could ensue!
JB: Who designed the fabulous set?
JW: Our Managing Director, Philip Ward, has a degree in fine art from Leeds Metropolitan University. He makes sure everything is looking stunning and in keeping with the world we are creating on stage. The entire production should
complement each other from the tiniest magic bean prop to large special effects and cloths. This is then enhanced by our lighting designer, Tom Moseley, who will add drama and ‘showbiz’ with his lighting.
JB: Who designs the costumes - when does this process start?
JW: I am a magpie for a costume bargain. We buy costumes all year long. Even if there isn't quite a need for it yet. Our costume store is huge - around 3000 items. We pull from our store, have pieces specially made and hire from well-known Dames such as Danny Mills to put together a wonderful wardrobe. Our Dame Trott this year will have thirteen costume changes including a giant baked bean tin!
JB: What is your favourite Pantomime?
JW: My favourite is whatever we are working on at the time. Right now, it’s ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’. There are special moments in all of our pantomimes that make that particular one my favourite at that time. Producing pantomime is all
consuming so it helps that we love what we do!
JB: What do you do when Panto is not on?
JW: We produce pantomime all year long! We’ll be back at Parkway Beverley on Saturday 13th April 2019 with The Little Mermaid. It’s guaranteed to make a splash! It’s never too early to plug the next show, right?!
JB: Who are the lead characters, how did you select them?
JW: We mostly stick to tradition when it comes to the characters in the panto. Panto is a British tradition we should be proud of and pass down the generations.
JB: The Panto runs from 14th December to 31st Dec, what do you do during this time?
JW: I am very hands on and if a job needs doing I'm there. I read a very inspiring quote the other day from children’s author, Andy Cope. Andy is now a Doctor of Positive Psychology, or a ‘Doctor of Happiness’. He said: ‘Do things better than you have to’. That’s exactly what we want to do - give Beverley the best panto experience we can possibly give them! TaleGate Theatre
Productions is very busy this Christmas producing six productions up and down the country. I will be visiting all our shows and making sure everyone is creating magical Christmas memories.
JB: Have you performed in any of the shows?
JW: I am not a stranger to the Parkway Beverley stage having been the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland, Won in Harry Panto, Scarecrow in Wizard of Oz and recently Winnie Sunderson in Hocus Panto. The audiences in Beverley are so warm and welcoming. It’s like a family coming together to have a great time and giggle every time. Jack and the Beanstalk plays from December 14th-31st at various times including a signed and relaxed performance on December 27th.
Visit https://beverley.parkwaycinemas.co.uk/ to book, call 01482 968090 or pop into Parkway Cinema to book in person. Some shows are booking very quickly so don’t miss out!