9am, 12 degrees and already the queue to audition for the Belgrade Theatre’s pantomime, Puss in Boots, was a street long and buzzing with excitement. Young hopefuls lined up to be in with the chance of being a part of the spectacular chorus at the open cast call on Sunday 8th September. Although the doors were not open until 9.30am, some children had been there as early as 8.30am, eager to get started and raring to go.
Whether they were nine or sixteen, every child was smiling brightly and ready to show what they were made of: showbiz talent.
I was lucky enough to be invited along to the exciting event and talk to auditionees in the queue, followed by getting to witness the auditions for myself.
When I asked the children what they would do if they got into the cast, the answer was almost always the same: food. Whether it was Nando’s, pizza or doughnuts, the celebrations were going to be nothing short of a feast. Some were going to celebrate with a dance, which they showed me on the spot and included impressively high jumps.
They were all clearly a talented bunch, some auditioning at the Belgrade for the first time, while others had also auditioned for other places before. Lucia, 10, had been preparing at her dance classes weekly, along with Daisy, 11 and many others. All dedicated to their performing, some had started dancing as young as 4 such as Iylana, 10.
Amy, 12, said “I have liked acting since I was little and would love to be on the big stage.”
Every child had stars in their eyes and dreams of getting on the stage, their excitement contagious. The excitement tripled as the doors of the Belgrade Theatre were opened.
After a brief introduction, the wonderful Iain Lauchlan (the legend behind the Tweenies), the writer and yearly Pantomime Dame, spoke all about what to expect from the day and the enthusiasm from the crowd was palpable.
The first group to be auditioned, aged 9-10, were certainly impressive. Within a minute of learning the routine, the majority already knew it by heart, beaming away as if none of us were watching. It was commendable how brave they were at such a young age and obviously loved what they did. These children did not seem to know the definition of nerves.
The energy in the room was electric and I was ready to get up onto my feet (though I would have tripped over them within seconds if I tried). Everyone in the room could not help but smile with the children as they performed (from watching, I can confidently say that they could all dance circles around me).I cannot wait to see the selected chorus perform in this year’s pantomime, ‘Puss in Boots’. It is sure to be a fantastic performance that will be the cat’s whiskers! Coventry should be very proud of its talented young people and it is no wonder that we got City of Culture 2021.
Photo permission given by Belgrade Theatre and children’s parents.