From university student to star of the stage, Katie Oughtibridge makes the step up at Bognor’s Regis Centre in Robin Hood and the Babes in the Woods this Christmas (December 13-January 5).
Katie is currently in her final year on the musical theatre course at the University of Chichester – and she’s understandably delighted at her big break.
“There were a couple of us put forward for the auditions. We had to prepare two songs. We also had to learn a piece of script, and I think that was it. Those of us that got called back had an extra bit of script to learn in between the auditions and the call-back.”
Getting the part of Maid Marion was a huge surprise: “I am not massively self-confident in that sense. I thought the stiffest competition would be my class-mates. I just thought there was no way – and then (pantomime producer) John Spillers asked if I would be Maid Marion.
“It was my first professional audition. I was really pleased. None of us really knew what to expect, but it was really nice. They were so relaxed and kind. It was just a really nice atmosphere.”
It’s the perfect experience for her final year on a course which she describes as fantastic: “We put in a lot of hours compared to other university courses. It is great training. Lots of people say you need extra training if you want a professional career, but all of our lecturers are working professionals or were working professionals. You are working with people who know exactly why you are wanting to do it. Our dance teacher has been in a couple of West End productions and touring shows. The standard is very high. It is quite a new course, but it has been fantastic.”
It has allowed Katie to develop as a performer: “I arrived having done a lot of dance ever since I was two or three, but doing the course, I have really focused on acting and my singing as well. I never thought acting would be for me, but it really is. In productions, I have been given characters.”
Katie comes into the show having seen plenty of pantos, taken along by her family who will now be flocking to see Katie on stage. She is expecting a big family contingent coming along to support her.
She’s looking forward to exploring the role: “Maid Marion is quite motherly but also very much a worrier. I look at the script, and I can see another worry line coming or another scene in which she is panicking!”
Katie’s performance in the panto won’t count as part of her course. It will sit entirely outside it.
“But for me, it is just an amazing experience to get professional work before I have even finished my degree. To me personally, it is going to be a massive boost.
“Everyone on my course wants the same thing, and you think just how many courses there are around the country, so to be able to do this will be great to give me the confidence that I need. You think that you have got this part and that you have just got to enjoy it, and that if you enjoy it, then people will come. I am hoping that I will grow.”
But she admits she will feel the pressure when she knows her family are in – especially as she is not at all from a theatrical family: “And there are masses of them coming, from all corners of Wiltshire and Devon.”
Tickets on 01243 861010.