14th Dec, 2017

INTERVIEW: Panto dame tells all about this year's Spa Centre offering

SLEEPING Beauty is this year’s festive panto at Leamington’s Spa Centre, and J P McCue will be taking the role of Dame Dolly Doubtfart.

When did you first perform? My first performance in front of a paid audience was when I was around 8 years old, in my friends garden we printed out tickets and performed for all our family and friends with different colour bedsheets as backgrounds thrown over a washing line.

When you were young what did you want to be when you grow up? I’ve always wanted to be in theatre and performance. I can’t do anything else.

If someone was going to make your life into a movie, who would play you? Maybe Jimmy Krankie for my school days and James McAvoy for my older years. He won’t look anything like me but he’s an incredible actor.

What’s the last thing you do before you step out on stage / the curtain goes up? Before I go onstage or before the show goes up I’ll tell whoever I see backstage to enjoy themselves and I remind myself to do that too.

When you have a five-minute break during rehearsal, what do you spend that time doing? Laughing. There’s always tons of laughter in the rehearsal room, sometimes even when we are not meant to be.

Do you have anything in common with the character you are playing? She likes to be in charge and cause as much mischief as she can just like more.

If you could be any other character in the show who would it be? I’d like to play Rosa, the Sleeping Beauty mostly because I like to sleep. A lot!

What show would be your ideal one to appear in after this one? The National Theatre are producing a brand new musical version of Roald Dahl’s The Witches, that would be incredible to be a part of.

If you could work with any actor (stage or screen) who would it be? Any of the older award-winning actresses, the legends, Meryl Streep, Judi Dench, Helen Mirren. I am fascinated by their careers.

What’s your perfect Sunday afternoon look like? I am usually doing two performances of my cabaret show every Sunday, but if I have a Sunday off all I want is sunshine, my partner, my dog and lots of food.

What’s the funniest or most nerve-wracking thing that has ever happened to you on stage? I have millions of funny memories I’ve made onstage but one of the most nerve wracking or worrying was in panto in Glasgow, during a Grease medley one of the dancers accidentally smacked me on the nose quite badly and I had to continue the dance and sing holding my nose as it felt like it was already bleeding. Thankfully everything was ok after and as always the show must go on!

What advice would you give to anyone who wanted to be an actor? Do it. It’s hard work and you have to be determined but I don’t think there’s any better feeling in the world than taking an audience away on a journey and providing escape for people even if only for a couple of hours. Oh and learn an acrobatic trick you’ll need it at some point!

Sleeping Beauty runs from December 2 to 31. Visit www.warwickdc.gov.uk/royalspacentre to book and for further details.

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