Last week we saw the Lythgoe Family Productions presentation of Cinderella at the El Portal Theatre in North Hollywood, California. We also had a chance to sit with the key members of the cast and talk about the British Panto style and other projects they have in the works.
Of course we were beside ourselves to think we would be sitting in a room with Jerry "Beaver Cleaver" Mathers. But we were also honored to talk to Harry Potter actor Freddie Stroma, Broadway star Jennifer Leigh Warren, newcomer Veronica Dunne, and stand out actors from the production Benny Harris and Eddie Driscoll.
They were all very excited to be involved in the U.S.'s first performance of a Panto, which incorporates current references, contemporary music and broad (oftentimes double entendre heavy) humor into a classic fairy tale. They told us that it took some getting used to for the American audiences who are brought up to sit quietly and watch a performance, not boo and cheer for the actors.
Mathers told us, "It takes a little while for everybody to know exactly what the structure is and that we want to interact with them and that when the character talks to them that we're going to be happy about it... We want you to yell out when then villains come out... It's really a very interactive experience."
There is quite a bit of improvisation involved with a Panto because the actors rely on the audiences' responses. Jennifer Warren Leigh told us, "Usually when you do theater the show is always different with each performance, but with this show it's really going to be different because you're talking to the audience. You don't know what response you're going to get. So you just have to go with the flow. It keeps you on your toes."
Benny Harris, who plays Buttons, grew up in England, so he was more than familiar with Panto. He says, "Most English, British, Irish kids, their first experience of going to theater is going to Pantomime... regardless of your background, whether you're from a wealthy background or a modest background, you're going to go to a pantomime... and to be able to go there and just go nuts it kind of makes you think 'This is a pretty cool place, the theater.'"
Freddie Stroma, who played Cormac McLaggen in the last two Harry Potter films, grew up in England, but did not know much more about Panto than his American cast members. He remarked, "I went to Pantomine when I was a kid, but I actually can't remember much of it, because I think I was a bit too young."
Check out all five of our interviews with the cast discussing the British theatrical style, this production of Cinderella, their individual careers and much more.
Jerry Mathers Discusses "Cinderella" EXCLUSIVE
Freddie Stroma Discusses "Cinderella" EXCLUSIVE
Jennifer Leigh Warren Discusses "Cinderella" EXCLUSIVE
Eddie Driscoll and Benny Harris Discuss "Cinderella" EXCLUSIVE
Veronica Dunne Discusses "Cinderella" EXCLUSIVE