Talented local actor Philip Napier is ready to once again delight audiences as the Doric Dame in the Aberdeen Arts Centre panto, this time portraying Queenie in Sleeping Beauty.
“My character is Sleeping Beauty’s mum,” said Philip.
“I’m trying to help her find a husband and live my fabulous life as a queen and show the Sleeping Beauty the ways of the world.”
Theatre fans can expect a lot of local references and fabulous costumes in the 2021 Aberdeen Arts Centre festive show which will be staged from November 28 to December 24 by the venue’s long-time collaborator TaleGate Theatre Productions.
Philip said: “Quite similar to what we did in Aladdin (Arts Centre’s last pre-Covid panto), there will be lots of little local jokes and references in it. We’ll be looking at the city and shire and do a couple of jokes about the differences.
Doric references and dazzling costumes
“And from what I’ve been told, I’ll have 13 costume changes this year. I think it is up from 10 that I had in Aladdin.
“A few of my Sleeping Beauty costumes are different selections of pyjamas because, well, it’s Sleeping Beauty and I like my bed a lot as well.
“I have only seen one of the dresses so far but what I’ve been told by the director, they’re all bright and colourful dresses. They match Queenie’s personality and love for big, bright and beautiful things.”
The show’s director James Worthington didn’t want to spoil the surprise, but said that “they’re all sequins and they’re all bright”.
Sleeping Beauty cast has a great dynamic
Just like the costumes, Philip says this year’s panto cast is fabulous.
“I’ve worked with Xander (Gordon) who plays Prince Valentine and I also worked with this year’s Fairy Fabulous Sarah (Ord) – they were both in Aladdin with me,” said Philip.
“Megan (Wright) who is Molevola – I worked with her recently in the Aberdeen Arts Centre production Easy Money.
“I only met Saffron (Gillies, who plays Aurora) during our photoshoot day but I can already tell it’s going to be a great cast dynamic – we all seemed to hit it off and get on.”
Panto is always unpredictable
The thing Philip likes the most about the panto season is the “unpredictability of it all”.
He explained: “Every show is completely different. Even though we have the same scrip and lines, what we get from the audience changes and it can be funny.
“In Aladdin, we had one child just shouted out something random and us as a cast we just couldn’t stop laughing. That’s what I love about panto.”
Philip also hopes to inspire younger generations and make them fall in love with theatre and acting.
He said: “For a lot of kids it’s their first time going to a theatre and seeing a show. That’s how my love for theatre started. So if they can see me and want to start doing drama classes….that’s just great to inspire people and help get them out of their comfort zones.”
Great to get back into acting after lockdowns
With all theatre productions put on hold due to coronavirus for more than a year, Philip was thrilled to get back into acting in July.
He said: “It was good getting back to it. For Easy Money, Aberdeen Arts Centre had its pod system (families sitting socially distanced from other groups) so it wasn’t completely packed, but I was just grateful to be back on stage again.
“It was great having people comfortable enough to come out to see live theatre – I think that’s still one of the apprehensions, but Aberdeen Arts Centre has got a lot in place in regards to cleaning in between shows, making sure everyone is safe and all staff are trained properly.
“All of us (actors) are just so happy to get back on stage and do what we love and what our profession is.”
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