Christmas has come early for a group of talented Coventry kids this year with the news that they’ll be starring in the Belgrade Theatre’s hugely popular Christmas pantomime.
On Sunday 2 September, almost 200 hopeful youngsters descended on the Theatre to audition for a part in the Junior Chorus of Sleeping Beauty, which opens on 21 November.
Crowds began assembling as early as 8.10am, with one eager group of teens arriving bright and early to beat the queues. By the time the doors opened at 9.30am, the line was stretching right around the block, to the very end of the row of shops on Corporation Street.
One of the first to arrive was Emily, who has performed in the show before, and who this year brought along a group of friends to audition for the first time.
“I persuaded them all to come because I loved it,” she laughed. “I loved performing with all the professional actors - they were just amazing!”
Over the course of the morning, starry-eyed kids aged 9-16 were divided into groups to learn a routine from the show’s choreographer, which they were asked to perform in front of a panel including writer, director and Dame Iain Lauchlan. In the afternoon, selected children were recalled for further auditions before successful performers were split into teams.
In between auditions, the Theatre’s foyer was a hive of activity, with eager children warming up, stretching and practising the steps they’d been taught. But with only 32 spaces available in total – including three rotating groups of eight plus an additional group of reserves – the show’s creatives had some tough decisions to make.
Iain Lauchlan said: “Junior Chorus audition day is always one of the hardest days of the year for us – exhausting, uplifting and awe-inspiring in equal measure. Many of the children and their parents spent the whole day at the theatre and we have seen almost 200 children for Sleeping Beauty this year.
“We watched so many fantastic young people who really put their heart and soul into the auditions, and I’d like to thank everyone who came along for their dedication and loyalty to the Belgrade and the panto.”
When Princess Belle pricks her finger on an enchanted spinning wheel, she’s cursed to fall asleep for 100 years, unless she’s kissed by her one true love. Enter the dashing Prince Valiant, along with Nanny Fanny McWheeze and Muddles, who embark on a brave adventure to save the Princess from her terrible fate. But with the wicked Fairy Carabosse determined to ruin their plans, will the trusty trio be triumphant or is the Princess doomed to a century of snoozing?
Don’t get caught napping when the nation’s dreamiest pantomime Sleeping Beauty comes to the Belgrade Theatre from Wednesday 21 November until Saturday 5 January. Tickets are available to book now by calling the box office on 024 7655 3055 or visiting www.belgrade.co.uk where prices are even cheaper.