No pantomime would be complete without the all-important pantomime baddie and this year we have one of the best! The wonderful Britt Lenting is making her UK stage debut in Beauty and the Beast, having developed a professional career in The Netherlands she has come over to the UK this Christmas specifically to perform in pantomime. I decided to find out a little bit more about the performer behind the evil make up!
So Britt, where in The Netherlands are you from?
‘I was born in Alkmaar, a beautiful city in the North West of The Netherlands.’
As I understand it they don’t have pantomime in The Netherlands, do they have any similar Christmas traditions? ‘That is true! We don’t have pantomimes in my country! What a shame really, because they are so much fun! I guess our December month is divided between two traditions. The one of St Nicholas, on the 5th of December, which I enjoyed a lot when I was a child. It has a lot of similarities with Christmas, like making a wish list, spending time with family and friends, getting gifts, specific candy… great memories! And of course Christmas itself, which is basically the same as in the UK. The most wonderful time of the year!’
Tell us a little bit about your character, who she is and what she gets up to in the pantomime? I get to play Elvira, the evil witch. In the beginning of the show she begs Lord Leopold to help her, as she is an old, weak, hungry woman in need, but he is very mean and rude to her. So therefore she casts a spell on him to teach him a lesson, but also to make herself young and healthy again. During the show she is basically there to make sure Leopold, now the Beast, dies unloved. Because if so… Elvira will stay young forever!
She sounds horrible. Do you enjoy playing the baddie of the show? Do I? I LOVE playing the baddie! It is so much fun. How I love hearing the audience booing and hissing!
What made you decide to get involved in Pantomime this year? Last year I worked with a lot of British actors in We Will Rock You, and they told me all about ‘Pantomime’. It sounded like something I would really enjoy, so I knew that when I was going to be in the UK, I’d want to experience a Panto. So I am very excited that Karen Simpson gave me the job.’
Are you enjoying your first ever Pantomime? ‘It is a great experience. Very different than anything else I’ve ever done, I’m feeling very lucky with this cast as they are very talented and nice people, as are the people backstage, they are great. Which is very important as we do 12 shows a week, so very hard work, but so much fun the audience seem to really enjoy themselves and if they do, that makes me very happy!’
What is it like interacting with the audience members during the show? ‘It is very interesting, because like I mentioned before, they boo and hiss at me, which normally as a performer you wouldn’t really want. But here, in the Pantomime, that is what I go on stage for. So I am trying to feed them evilness, and get that reaction from them. It is great fun! Also I get to interact a tiny bit with what we call ‘our show victim’. Usually a man from the front row who has been selected by ‘the Dame’. Being a little flirty with him is always good fun.’
Do you have any friends and family coming over from The Netherlands to see you perform?
‘I do! Which is so lovely as Bury St Edmunds isn’t exactly a drive away. So for them to take that effort, means a lot!’
Benjamin Willmott, Press and Commnications Officer