Last time she was at the Mayflower, Ashleigh Gray was the green-faced Elphaba. Now she’s back in panto – and loving every minute of it.
She will be the good fairy at the Southampton venue in Robin Hood from December 17-January 8.
“This is my fifth panto,” she says, “and I just love panto. It is so much fun. It is crazy and off the wall! You finish in January and then you go about your normal day-to-day stuff for the rest of the year, and then in November you start rehearsals and you just think ‘This is bonkers!’ There all sorts of weird routines!”
And yes, you can certainly let your hair down, but at the same time, you’ve got to treat your fun fairly seriously.
“The point of panto, just like any other show, is that you have got to tell the story, and the truth has got to come out. You have still got to approach it from a really real perspective, if you can see what I mean. You don’t just get up there and say the words. We are lucky the way we are rehearsing. We are working through the scenes, making sure they work, making sure they make sense. But also, we are really lucky to have a fantastic cast.
“The part I like to play is the good fairy. I am the one that has got to keep all the bonkersness together and make sure it keeps coming back to the plot. I am playing the straight guy really as opposed to all the ones clowning around.”
Not that she minds.
“It is all great fun. In what other show do you know that you are going to be standing there laughing on stage at some point!”
She’s appeared at the Mayflower a few times before, with Wicked the most recent. The year-long tour finished in August last year.
“It was quite a long slog. We did just over a year. But it was brilliant. It was really wonderful, and I think the audiences played a big part in that. But I think it was a show that has just got something for everyone, something for all ages and even if you don’t know the Wizard of Oz story before.”
Tickets for panto in Southampton are on http://www.mayflower.org.uk.