A night of firsts for Morton and Lister
Some pantomime pointers
Just so they dont get completely lost in the woods, here are some pointers for these newbies:
n When someone yells look behind you, look the opposite way.
n Dont expect the audience to be agreeable. They will say oh no it isnt if you say, oh yes it is.
n Most importantly, under no circumstances do you throw candy at the children sitting closest to the stage. The candy is for the poor children at the back who couldnt get front row seats.
With those rules, Mr Morton and Ms Lister should at least get through the opening performance tomorrow night.
While many people experience their first Christmas pantomime as tots, George Morton and Latisha Lister will first feel the magic in leading roles.
Mr Morton, who said he might have been to a pantomime once as a child will be Aladdin and Ms Lister, who said shed never been to a pantomime before, will be the Genie of the Lamp in this years Bermuda Musical and Dramatic Society production of Aladdin.
In this years show, the wicked Abanazer (Will Kempe) is seeking a magic lamp that contains the all-powerful Genie so that he can rule the world. He is just steps away from succeeding when a family of wannabe heroes intercedes Aladdin, his brother Wishee Washee (Deon Ming) and their fearsome mother Widow Twankey (Alan Brooks).
So far rehearsing for the pantomime has been great fun, said Ms Lister. I tried out on a whim. I wasnt going to, but then someone said I should do it, and I thought why not?. It has been very busy with lots of practices. It is great because there is a strong sense of camaraderie. I love how people are working together to get this thing done.
She has performed in two BMDS Famous for 15 Minute productions. The play she was in earlier this year, A Thousand Words won a prize. It was, coincidentally, written by Owain Johnston-Barnes, a reporter with The Royal Gazette who plays the Emperor of China in Aladdin.
I have been involved in acting in many capacities over the years, Ms Lister said. I did stuff in high school and boarding school and some local things in churches. This is the first thing I have really gotten involved in as an adult. I enjoyed the theatre as a kid and I always felt the draw to come back into it.
Ms Lister described her character as very irreverent.
She is a female genie which is a first, she said. She is quick to please, and very happy to be out of the bottle, but she does not like to be bossed around. She definitely bosses her way through the programme. It is a bit influenced by the old television programme I Dream of Jeannie and some Robin Williams (who played the voice of the Genie in the Disney version of Aladdin). It is an interesting mix of the two.
Ms Lister, who has worked in the field of mental health for ten years, is a therapist with the Employee Assistance Programme.
Performing in the pantomime is definitely a great release and fun to do in the evenings because after my nine to five job, I can become a whole different person, she said. With all that is happening in Bermuda, it is important that we have things that engage us as a community that allow us to see the best of each other. There is such a range of people who are involved. There are stage veterans and some people who are new to the stage. There are children in the chorus and set designers. This brings many different types of people together to work as a community. There needs to be more activities like this in the community, that we can all take part in.
Mr Morton is also relatively new to the BMDS stage. He admitted that since he is fair-haired and bearded he doesnt have the typical look for the character Aladdin. To act the part he planned to shave off a beard he has had for more than six years.
Those are the sacrifices you make for the theatre, he said philosophically. I might have to keep my hat on during the play because I dont have a full head of hair. Its not really what Aladdin looks like though that makes the part. Its how you play the part and what you say.
This will be his first time on stage in 12 years. He was last in a play in university. An English and drama teacher at Saltus Grammar School, he became involved with BMDS last year when he entered his play in the Famous for 15 Minutes competition.
I didnt really intend to try out for the role of Aladdin, he said. I was asked if I could go down to help pad out the voices in the male chorus. I sang a little bit. They asked me to read a part. I read a couple of parts. They offered me the part of Aladdin and I was very flattered and found myself with the lead role.
Mr Morton said it was a fun role to play. As a drama teacher he often encouraged his students to try out for parts and participate in things, so it was nice to be taking the lead.
Aladdins job is to make friends with the children, he said. You leave all the humour and the silly lines to the dame and the nastiness to the villain. You are just there to get the children involved in the story. You have to be larger than life. Hopefully, the children will go away thinking they quite liked me.
He said Aladdin took a lot of energy as he is on the stage all the time. He has caught the acting bug again and will probably try out for other plays.
I might not try for the very next one, he said. I think my wife has forgotten what I look like. Perhaps I will try out for something again in a few months.
Julia Frith has the role of Princess Li-Chee, Donyelle Burchall is Phee-Ling, Andrew Sussman is Wee-Keed, Brandon Sousa is Hi-Wong, Owain Johnston-Barnes is Emperor Sang-Wun-Song, Nicola Flood is Mee-Nass-Tee, Tanya Weller is Stopee, Jenn Stervinou is Lookee and Elaine McGlynn is Lee-Sun.
Aladdin starts tomorrow at City Hall at 7.30pm. Matinee performances will be held on Saturday and Sunday at 3pm and on December 15 with no evening performance on Sunday. On opening night theatregoers will have the chance to meet the stars of Aladdin and have their picture taken after the show. Tickets are $35, and on sale now at www.bmds.bm.
Useful website: www.bmds.bm .