PANTOMIME INTERVIEW: Poppy Jhakra in Aladdin at Worthing Pavilion Theatre

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POPPY Jhakra says she’s fulfilling a childhood dream at Worthing this Christmas when she steps out on stage as a panto princess.

She will be Princess Jasmine in Aladdin at the Pavilion Theatre until Sunday, January 2 – her second panto outing.

“Lots of girls long to be a princess and wear fancy dress and fall in love with a prince,” says Poppy who, surprisingly experienced her first-ever contact with panto when she made her debut last year in Windsor.

“I didn’t grow up in a traditional theatre-going family. I think probably live music was more our medium,” she recalls. “It’s strange, really.”

The first panto call came through when she was out in America: “My agent just said that they had come through and offered me the part.

“My instincts just told me that it would be exciting and I said yes. It’s a big challenge but it’s a lot of fun.”

To do it well, you have got to enjoy it, Poppy believes: “You have got to be happy in it and have fun. It’s a wonderful story that will go on forever – a great love story, and with it being set in the East, it is also very colourful and bright with the sights and the costumes. It’s lovely.”

Poppy’s background was an American Theatre Arts course at Rose Bruford: “All the plays we studied were by American playwrights and for the second year of the course, the class got taken out to Texas where we lived for a year.

“At Rose Bruford they believed that in order to understand what we were doing, we had to actually go and live and breathe it. At 19 years old and with a student loan, you can imagine we all agreed!

“It was brilliant. It trained us in lots of different mediums. I learnt how to direct as well as to do lighting and about stage management.”

But work brought her back to the UK: “This is home. My loyalties for the most part are here.

“You understand the sense of humour in the place where you are from. You know more about the mentality.

“It’s the culture. I am British, and I belong here.”

Tickets on 01903 206206 and www.worthingtheatres.co.uk.