Vicky Meets'¦ Bev Berridge, pantomime director
For Bev, Christmas starts early. In January, actually.
As fast as the festive season comes to an end, Bev and the team at Spillers Pantomimes are immediately in to planning, casting, scheduling and sorting costumes and sets to be refurbished for the following Christmas. This year directing three pantomimes, including the now established and well-loved panto at Bognor’s Alexandra Theatre, Bev is looking forward to returning to the seaside venue for the fourth consecutive year.
“We’re doing Aladdin this year, which is a great story with brilliant characters. With them we go on a fantastic oriental journey. It’s the magical story and the characters that make it a really unique pantomime.”
A family business founded by Bev’s late father-in-law, the legendary John Spillers, who sadly died earlier this year, Bev knows exactly what ingredients are required for a successful panto.
“John knew the importance of balancing tradition with making sure that panto is relevant to a younger audience, too. We go to great lengths to make the script fit what the audience wants here in Bognor. I listen to current affairs and keep on top of what is happening in the world and write and adapt the script so that it is topical, but also bringing in modern elements that kids can relate to. He can still be ‘behind you,’ but you add in things like talking about being on snapchat that the kids get,” explained Bev.
Delighted at how the audience has developed in Bognor, Bev is quick to share the credit. “We have built a reputation for a first class, well priced show performed by really good actors. Panto sells out here now and that’s a great accolade to the theatre and its staff and volunteers. So much work goes into putting a pantomime on.”
But even though he is directing three different shows this year, Bev insists that he actually has a pretty relaxed Christmas.
“Once they are all open I just go around watching everyone else doing the hard work. But my favourite part of the process is watching the first night and seeing a little girl in her best party dress taking it all in, absolutely transfixed. When you see the magic work and the look on the children’s faces it is wonderful.”
A keen and talented cook, for Bev relaxation is cooking up the festive family feast. “That’s why my cooking routines in the shows are so good!” he joked.
Aladdin gets three wishes, thanks to the genie of the lamp. What would Bev’s three wishes be?
“I suppose one wish would be to have another wish, but three successful pantomimes, with nobody getting ill and everybody getting on, would be great. That everyone gets on really well makes a big difference to the show. My third wish would be that come back next year to do it all again.”
His wish is our command. Oh yes it is!
Tickets for Aladdin: Bognor 861010 http://www.regiscentre.co.uk
picture credit: youreventphotography.uk