Wednesday, 3 December 2014

PREVIEW Sleeping Beauty, Churchill Theatre, Bromley

HE may be known to millions as killer Rob Donavan in ITV's Coronation Street but Marc Baylis is hoping people won't be booing him when he makes his panto debut this week.
The 37-year-old has left Rob behind and will be taking on the role of the Prince in Bromley's Churchill Theatre's production of Sleeping Beauty which opens on Friday for a five-week run.
And despite the understandable nerves about being a panto first timer he says he's looking forward to the challenge.
"I've done theatre before but this is my first panto and I'm really up for it," he says cheerfully.
"I'm not worried about being booed to begin with - and I'm sure some of the gags will reference the Prince killing someone - but I hope I'll be able to win the audience round so they'll be cheering me on!"
Although he's most well known for his stint on Corrie, Marc has numerous other TV credits including Misfits, Sirens, Law and Order, The Bill, Eastenders, Doctors, My Uncle Silas, Battlefields, and Hollyoaks.
But his background is theatre and he's starred in a variety of productions including Mark Rylance's Jerusalem at the Apollo Theatre and The Belle's Stratagem at the Southwark Playhouse.
Indeed it was a trip to the theatre as a child to see a panto that inspired him to become an actor.
"I went to the Birmingham Hippodrome and loved it from the off," he says. "There's so much energy and atmosphere - it was just fabulous and that was it for me.
"It's one of the reasons I became an actor really - and I love it because in every job you can always be someone different.
“I've done a lot of theatre although not for a while as I've been in Corrie so it will be nice to be back on the boards though this will be a whole new challenge," he laughs.
"We've got a great cast and a fantastic script but what I'm most looking forward to is the fact panto is so lighthearted which will be great after what has been a serious storyline in Corrie!
"There are no restrictions or boundaries with panto so it will be pretty awesome.
"It's spontaneous and you never know who's going to play a prank on you - plus you get so much more audience participation which I'm really looking forward to - so bring it on!
He will be joined on stage by a plethora of stars including Forest Hill actress and former Pop Idol finalist Zoe Birkett who stars as Carabosse the Bad Fairy.
The 29-year-old who has made a name for herself in the West End and most recently on Channel 5's Big Brother, says she's looking forward to the show, not least because she can unleash her "darker side".
"I'm a real girly girl and I normally play the princess so to be taking on the role of the wicked queen is going to be a lovely change - though I'm not sure how I'm going to feel about all the booing," she laughs.
"Although I'm a bit nervous, I can't wait and am really excited especially as I get to bring out my darker side.
"My costume is great too - I'll be wafting black feathers all over the place and I'm going to put fairy lights in the dressing room!" she chuckles.
Like Matt, Zoe got the acting bug when she went to see a production of Peter Pan in Newcastle when she was a child.
"Peter Pan was my first panto and got me hooked," she says. "I used to go every year with my dad and loved it. It inspired me to do lots of musical theatre as a kid and that was it.
"Panto is very different to other stage shows though. It brings the whole family together and everyone has a great time.
"It is the whole theatrical nature of it that is so brilliant. You have to take it a bit seriously - although it's not like Shakespeare let's face it - but it's a chance for the cast, crew, musicians and the audience to relax and have some fun.
"It is scripted of course but what I love is the whole audience participation which makes it so enjoyable.
And Zoe promises there will be "tonnes" of fun in this show.
"There are some great songs of course, fab costumes and loads of opportunities for the kids to interact with the characters at all our silly jokes. It's going to be fantastic!"

Sleeping Beauty is on at the Churchill Theatre, Bromley, until Sunday, January 4. Tickets from £15 to £26.50. Visit or call the box office on 0844 871 7620.  

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