Beauty And The Beast Interviews – Floral Pavilion, New Brighton

Beauty And The Beast
Image Source: Floral Pavilion

It’s panto season again! (“Oh, no it isn’t! Oh, yes it is!”) At New Brighton’s Floral Pavilion, Beauty And The Beast is this year’s Christmas pantomime. And we would recently get the opportunity to speak to several cast members about the show. Along the way, we would also delve into their previous career histories, as well as their future ambitions. So, check out our comments with Olivia Birchenough, Shaun Dalton, Quinn Patrick and Sean Jones!

Beauty And The Beast

Olivia Birchenough

First of all, tell us about your role in Beauty And The Beast.

Belle is here to help drive the story, whilst spreading magic and smiles.

Do you have previous experience in pantomime?

This is my 9th panto for UK Productions! And my third here in New Brighton. I was crowned the Best Leading Female at The Great British Pantomime Awards 2017 following my role as Cinderella here in 2017!

Tell us about your background in drama school.

I trained at Rose Bruford Academy of Music and Theatre, the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre and with the National Youth Theatre.

From there, you would become a presenter for Channel 5’s Milkshake. How did this opportunity come about, and how thrilled were you to receive this chance?

I actually got my job at Channel 5 before I graduated from Drama School. Following a fair few auditions, I was over the moon to be given my dream job!

What have been your highlights during your time as a Milkshake presenter?

Live TV is like nothing I’ve ever done before and SO much fun! Anything can happen (and does!). Touring the country with the channel’s theatre show is also a definite highlight. Getting out and meeting the audience is so much fun!

Finally, why should people come out to see Beauty And The Beast at the Floral Pavilion?

Come and join us for the most magical of pantomimes! We’re so ready to get back on stage for some panto-sized fun. And we hope you are too!

Shaun Dalton

First of all, tell us about your role in Beauty And The Beast.

The Beast is a bit grumpy to begin with. However, he becomes more likeable as the story goes on.

You have previously played the Beast in an earlier production. Is your character a friendly Beast or a nasty Beast?

I wouldn’t say he’s nasty, though he’s definitely upset and moody. But he’ll make you laugh too (at least I hope so!).

You also have other pantomime credits. What are the main differences between performing in a pantomime and a more traditional musical?

There are a lot of similarities, but the main difference is the audience and the interaction we have with them. They are part of the performance too.

Tell us about your background and how you became a theatre performer.

I started doing amateur theatre very late on. And I didn’t know what drama school was until someone suggested that I go there. I trained for 3 years and was lucky enough to get an agent. From there, I went into musicals and have loved every minute since then.

You’re most well-known for your experience on the West End. What would you consider to be your highlights thus far?

To be in Les Miserables was one of my ambitions, and to finally be part of the show was incredible. When we won the Olivier audience award in 2012, I was playing Javert for the BBC broadcast. It was one of the best days of my career.

What are your future career ambitions on the stage?

I’ve been lucky enough to fulfil two of my ambitions already. They were to play Beast in Disney’s Beauty And The Beast and Javert in Les Mis. As for the future, I honestly don’t know, but that’s exciting too!

Finally, why should people come out to see Beauty And The Beast at the Floral Pavilion?

It’s a fantastic award-winning script by Jon Monie. Plus, there’s a brilliant cast, great music and special effects, and an incredible Beast transformation!

Quinn Patrick

First of all, tell us about your role in Beauty And The Beast.

I’m playing Polly La Plonk. She’s the housekeeper of the castle, the mother to Louis La Plonk, a traditional Dame and an all-around good time!

Is it more fun to play the pantomime dame in comparison to other roles?

Playing the dame is wonderful. The British public love a panto dame. So, getting to do that and entertain families at a fantastic time of the year is perfect.

Tell us about your background and how you first entered the world of theatre.

Well, I won a talent contest at my school. That was my first experience of showing off, and I’ve never looked back since.

When did you first begin performing in pantomime, and what are your highlights on the stage to date?

I’ve been doing panto for around twenty years now. Honestly, the highlight is just being on stage and entertaining people. The audience loves a good panto!

I often hear about the great camaraderie of working on a pantomime, and how the funniest moments are often unplanned. Can you share any amusing stories about times when a panto didn’t always go to plan?

The audience loves it when the show goes wrong and they see something that no other audience does. I’ve seen sets fall down, lines being forgotten, people not coming on, sound effects in the wrong place, a power cut. And all of it was brilliant!

What advice would you give for any theatre performers reading this interview that may wish to appear in a pantomime in the future?

I would say that be prepared. Panto is a full-scale musical, magic show, dance show etc. And it all happens in a short rehearsal time. Also, it happens at Christmas. So, it’s always good to have a bit of money in your back pocket at this time of year!

Finally, why should people come out to see Beauty And The Beast at the Floral Pavilion?

It’s a story that all the children know, and the presentation is spot-on. Simply put, it’s a great traditional pantomime.

Sean Jones

First of all, tell us about your role in Beauty And The Beast.

Well, I’m playing Louis La Plonk! He’s an inept but loveable dogsbody!

How much fun is it to appear in pantomimes?

It’s a brilliant opportunity to connect with an audience. It’s like a cabaret but with slapstick.

Tell us about your background and how you first entered the world of theatre.

So, I’ve been an actor now for 30 years. I trained at Guildhall School Of Music And Drama, and I spent many years playing Mickey in Blood Brothers.

You’re a veteran of pantomimes, having appeared in many productions. What memories stand out from your panto experiences thus far?

That would be performing with my daughter for three years in a row when she was a juvenile dancer! Such special memories!

In addition, you’ve appeared in major shows, most notably Blood Brothers. Was it tough to play the role of Mickey in such an emotional show?

Mickey is a fantastic challenge of a role. He’s a great character with a mammoth journey. It was exhausting but exhilarating!

You’ve appeared in other shows such as Macbeth and Wave Me Goodbye. What other productions would you like to participate in on the stage in the future?

Well, I hope to return to Macbeth at some point. I’m very lucky to have such a varied career, and I hope to keep meeting new challenges!

Finally, why should people come out to see Beauty And The Beast at the Floral Pavilion?

It’s a classic story in a traditional setting! We have an amazing award-winning script and a fabulous cast! COME SEE!!!!

Beauty And The Beast Further Links

Beauty And The Beast comes to Floral Pavilion from Saturday December 4 to Sunday January 9 2022. And you can buy tickets right now.

Are you going to see Outside The Igloo? Let us know by leaving a comment below!