‘Oh yes it is!’

Derbyshire Life - - Monumental Musings -

Nigel Powl­son meets the stars who will be head­ing to Derby Arena for this year’s spec­tac­u­lar Christ­mas

pro­duc­tion of Jack and the Beanstalk

It will be a Christ­mas home­com­ing for Bethan Nash as she gets her first taste of panto in her home county.

She plays Jill in this year’s Derby Arena spec­tac­u­lar Jack and the Beanstalk, work­ing again with Derby LIVE, where her dream of be­ing a stage per­former grew in youth theatre un­der the cre­ative eye of Pete Meakin.

Bethan played Florence Nightin­gale in the youth theatre pro­duc­tion of A Lady with a Lamp and grad­u­ated to roles in three pro­fes­sional Derby shows – The Snow Queen, Much Ado About Noth­ing and Bro­ken Hearted.

She trained at the Bris­tol Old Vic Theatre School where she was the re­cip­i­ent of the Ju­lian Slade Mu­sic Award in 2011 and the Peter O’toole Prize in 2015, and re­turned to Der­byshire to work with Oddsocks – the theatre com­pany fa­mous for its ir­rev­er­ent ver­sions of Shake­speare’s plays – join­ing them on tour for a year. Since then she has mixed mu­si­cal theatre with straight plays, has done some TV and short film work and started her own stage com­pany but Jack and the Beanstalk will be her first panto.

Bethan has suc­cess­fully made the tran­si­tion from as­pir­ing young tal­ent to work­ing pro­fes­sional but ad­mits that it’s not easy. ‘There are a lot of peo­ple who want the same things as you,’ she says. ‘You have to work hard and learn your craft well as that in­creases your chances of do­ing the thing you love. I was lucky that I had al­ways had a lot of en­cour­age­ment.

‘Grow­ing up in Wirksworth helped as well as it’s a real hub of artis­tic ac­tiv­ity and my school, An­thony Gell, was re­ally sup­port­ive. I love the Der­byshire Dales and it’s so nice to be back home. I will be able to drive home and sleep in my bed every night!

I’m also de­lighted to be work­ing for Derby LIVE again as start­ing out with them and Pete Meakin, that was my foun­da­tion for train­ing to be an ac­tress, learn­ing about what it took to be part of the in­dus­try. It also showed me the op­por­tu­ni­ties that ex­isted and gave me role mod­els to show what could be done.’

Bethan has used all the knowl­edge she has gained about stage craft to set up the New Mutiny Theatre Com­pany. She says:

‘It’s for chil­dren’s and fam­ily theatre. We are based in Der­byshire and Brighton and we are af­fil­i­ated with the Old Mar­ket Theatre in Brighton. I’m very much in­volved in de­vis­ing the shows and pro­duc­ing them. It’s some­thing I’m pas­sion­ate about and hav­ing the abil­ity to cre­ate your own work is re­ally em­pow­er­ing. We al­ways say we want to be the “Pixar of theatre”.

‘When I first grad­u­ated, I thought I had to con­cen­trate on one thing but be­ing a theatre maker is some­thing I aspire to as well as my pro­fes­sional ca­reer on stage and screen. It’s also nice to float be­tween dif­fer­ent head spa­ces and putting on a pro­ducer’s hat gives me a bet­ter ap­pre­ci­a­tion when some­one else is do­ing it.’

Up next though is Jack and the Beanstalk and Bethan says that her year with

Oddsocks will help her with her first role in panto.

‘Cer­tainly, in terms of the com­edy, and the pre­ci­sion of the com­edy. There is so much en­ergy in pan­tos as well and peo­ple re­ally do leave the­atres in­spired over Christ­mas. I’m look­ing for­ward to the chal­lenge of how we play with that much space on the Derby Arena stage and en­gag­ing with that many peo­ple at one time. I think the cos­tume changes and melt­ing in the lights on stage will also be a chal­lenge.’

Bethan plays Jill, the princess-type role in the panto, and is re­splen­dent in a colour­ful gown when we meet – but she ad­mits that’s not her at all.

‘I would have been out play­ing sport, get­ting muddy and stuff when I was lit­tle. And I think it’s im­por­tant to chal­lenge those stereo­types, which is start­ing to hap­pen now. It’s im­por­tant we show that to young peo­ple.’

The cast and crew were get­ting to know each other at a photo shoot at the Blue­bell Dairy Farm in Spon­don when Der­byshire Life

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