Sophie Arthur

Floral Pavilion’s Slave of the Ring, Jennifer Harding: An Interview

Since moving over from Canada, Jennifer Harding has been so excited to play in her first panto and Floral Pavilion’s ‘Aladdin’ gave her just that chance this Christmas!

Have you ever done a panto before?

Nope! Not once!

Are you excited?

I’m so excited! I’m beyond excited! I think it’s so fun – I moved over here [from Canada] in 2012, but I didn’t actually see my first panto until 2014, so it was a couple of years, and it blew my mind! Everyone is involved and there’s just this energy in the theatre. I didn’t know what to expect, but I walked in and everyone has lights and the first time the audience responded I was thinking, “What is going on?!” But it’s been on my radar to do one since then. I’ve actually made a point of going to see a panto between my other shows in the past few years, so when this came up I was in for whatever they needed me to be!

Do you have anything similar in Canada?

I think we have one panto company that I know of and only one panto every year, which is in Toronto. We lived 3 hours from Toronto though so I’ve never seen it, I only saw a poster for it in a subway once! We don’t have it, but now I’ve seen it we definitely should! We’re missing out!

What drew you to this role?

I think it’s getting to be a kid again and being able to experience the awe that all children have for the world. You’ve got the magic of Christmas amplified by the magic of being a child again! We should be so lucky to experience that again, I think! I don’t think there’s anything better than seeing the joy first hand because it is just pure, unadulterated joy!

If you had a lamp, what would your three wishes would be?

That’s actually really tough isn’t it?! I know understand why people say they would wish for infinite more wishes! I think because I’m not from around here it would probably be access to go and see my family or for them to come here. I would wish for the ability to fly and a bottomless vanilla milkshake for life! Oh wait… Can I wish for no brain freeze as well? I take one back and replace it with zero brain freeze! I take back world peace and wish for zero brain freeze! I should definitely have wished for something more important!

What’s your favourite part of Christmas?

I think the reason I’ve wanted to do panto for so long is because it encompasses everything that Christmas does and that’s joy. Christmas is family and it’s tradition. It’s all about that excitement and the build-up – the magic, if you like. I think sometimes we forget how important it is to believe in magic and Christmas is that.

What’s your dream panto role?

This! Absolutely! I like the fact she’s allowed to have a little bit of attitude. I think everyone deserves to feel like a princess once in a while, but I think there’s power in being a little bit different. I like being a little bit different and this is me, covered in sequins!

What are you most excited about?

I’m excited for one of the kids to say something and for it to throw me off completely! I’m the biggest giggler so I hope I’m allowed to have a giggle on stage sometimes! It’s Christmas – if you can’t laugh at Christmas, when can you laugh? That’s another wish – the ability to giggle!

Photo Credits: Brian Roberts

For tickets to ‘Aladdin’: https://www.floralpavilion.com/en-GB/shows/aladdin/events/2

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