By day she’s a primary school teacher in North Mundham. Between Christmas and New Year, however, she will be Aladdin lapping up a massive adventure as she seeks true love with her princess.
Hannah Skelton plays the lead in Cloud Nine musical theatre group’s annual panto in Selsey.
Hannah knows that a number of children from school have already bought their tickets. But it is the looks from the parents in the playground in January she is worried about, she laughs.
“This is my fourth year of doing it. We did Cinderella and we did Ali Baba, and a couple of years running, I was the fairy. Now I am principal girl in Aladdin. I feel very lucky to be given the role. I think having a female Aladdin adds another level to the show. It is not just for the boys and girls. It is for everybody. Everybody can come along and have a good laugh!”
To be a good Aladdin, Hannah knows she has got to be brave and romantic. He is a young man looking for love: “And everyone wants a man, don’t they! He is brave and he looks after his mother. He works at his mother’s launderette, and he falls in love with the princess.”
Key to panto success, Hannah believes, is a good dose of slapstick: “And I also think it is really important that you all enjoy it as a cast. If the cast don’t think it is good, then you will struggle to pull it off.”
And yes, Hannah does think it is good. Really, really good.
“I came away from the rehearsal the other day with my stomach aching I had been laughing so much! And you have also got to have tunes that everyone will know.”
For Hannah it is all part of Christmas. She doesn’t see it as swallowing up the week between Christmas and New Year. Quite the contrary. She sees it as extending Christmas: “After Christmas Day when you have eaten your weight in chocolates, it is good to have something to do, and with families that have got the grandparents staying, they are also looking for somewhere to go, something to get out to. The company is very well supported. It’s lovely down here in Selsey. It’s such a little community. Everyone knows everybody. When you go to something like this, you get to meet new people.”
Hannah doesn’t find herself wishing she had pursued acting professionally. She is delighted to keep it as an enjoyable hobby: “It is great to do. I honestly think it is the working together. It is so much fun, and you have such a good laugh. We are like a little family. Everyone is so friendly and gets on so well, and it is just like hanging out with friends when you are at rehearsals. It is lovely that there is such an age range. The age differences really don’t matter at all. Everyone just gets on well together.”
Cast includes Princess Lapsang sou chong – Kimberley Duke; Dame Widow Twankey – Les Hilton; Wishee Washee – Daniel Townsend; Genie of the Lamp – Madeleine Butler; Genie of the Ring – Abbi Robinson; and Abanazar – Pete Driscoll.
Aladdin will be at the Selsey Town Hall from Wednesday, December 27 (6pm only) through to Saturday, December 30 (twice daily at 2.30 pm and 7pm).