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What’s it like to act in a panto?

Peter Pan panto

One of our favourite times of year has arrived: panto season!

When we heard that Jigsaw Bushey student Caelan had been cast in a professional pantomime, we couldn’t resist asking him a few questions about the experience.

Tickets are available now for Peter Pan at the Watersmeet Theatre in Rickmansworth. The show runs from Thursday 12 December through to Sunday 5th January.


Tell us about the show?

Every year the Watersmeet Theatre in Rickmansworth run a Christmas pantomime about a famous fairytale you may know. This year the show is Peter Pan and I am playing the role of Michael Darling. 


Tell us about your role?

My character is a 4-year-old boy who loves pirates. He has an older brother named John and a big sister called Wendy. He can be very shy around new people such as Peter Pan, however once he gets to know him he treats him like a Dad. In parts of the panto he is very funny and cheeky, especially with the pirates. He carries an old teddy bear throughout the whole show, which is heavy (a lot of hard work).  


What was the audition like? 

When I arrived at the audition, I was feeling nervous and excited at the same time. I was taken into an audition room and was shown a dance routine which I had to take part in. Then I was given a poem called ‘Squeaky Shoes’ that I had to read out to the producer of the play. After this we were put into two groups. One group sadly didn’t make it to the second part of the audition. Fortunately, I was put through to the second round. 

During this part I had to read out lines from the panto itself and act in the character of Michael. I thought I must have been doing well as I caught the producer’s eye at one point, and he gave me a thumbs up which helped my nerves. After this we had to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ in a high and low voice so they could hear how well our singing voices were.

In the end, they sent us all home and told us they would tell us our results on Tuesday. On Tuesday walking home from school my mummy received an email telling me I had made it through and I was given the part of Michael Darling. My heart filled with joy and I felt proud of myself and grateful for my mum who took me to the audition.  


What is your favourite part of rehearsals? 

My favourite part of the rehearsals is acting out the nursery scene. This scene is my favourite because I have a lot of lines and get to show off the acting skills I have learnt during my time at Jigsaw. 

I also enjoy learning the dance routines and the new songs because I love learning new ideas.  I’ve also made new friends there who have similar interests as me and we get on really well, especially the boy who is playing my on stage brother as we spend most of our time together there.  


Who is your favourite actor/actress?

My favourite actor in the panto is the actor playing ‘Smee’, he has made me feel very welcome and makes me laugh a lot! He is very kind and friendly and gives me lots of top tips I can use in my acting.  


How long have you been coming to Jigsaw? 

I have been coming to Jigsaw for one year now and I have really enjoyed it. I have learned lots of new strategies in singing, such as warm-ups, tongue twisters and playing with my vocal range. In dance I’ve worked on my flexibility and I’ve got more confident. My drama classes have been a real help for me during the audition process and in the panto. I’ve made lots of new friends since starting Jigsaw which is also really good! 


Why did you decide to come to Jigsaw?

I decided to join Jigsaw because I have always loved performing to my family. Many of my friends at school are not into singing, dancing or acting. Finding some friends with similar interests was important to me. When I am older, I am hoping to be a singer and actor in the theatre, and I think Jigsaw will give me lots of help in building my skills and aiming for my dream. 


What’s your favourite thing you’ve done at Jigsaw? 

My favourite thing I’ve done at Jigsaw is performing ‘If Only You Would Listen’ from the School of Rock musical. I especially liked this performance because it was my first performance there and I was given the opportunity to show my singing voice in a solo verse. I also really enjoyed creating a Haribo advert as it was lots of fun and completely different to anything I’d done before. 


How do you think Jigsaw has helped you? 

Jigsaw has helped me because not only have I learnt new skills, but I have also gained more confidence and they have given me lots of encouragement to just go for it. Katie always shows interest in my outside performances and encourages me to be proud of all my achievements. The teachers are kind and friendly and I feel I can ask them for help and advice if I need it. I’ve made many new friends who are into the same things as me, which is wonderful.  


What advice would you give to other children who like to perform? 

My advice to other children would be don’t be shy and be yourself at all times. Work hard on any lines you are given, big or small, and give the best you have got. Never give up and have a go at everything even if you find it a bit of a struggle.


What fantastic advice! Head to the Watersmeet Theatre website to book your tickets for the Peter Pan panto. 

Jigsaw Performing Arts is dedicated to developing performance skills, promoting self-expression and building confidence. We offer performing arts classes for children aged between 3 – 18. Find your nearest school by entering your postcode into the search on our home page