EMILY Taylor was cut out for the stage from her first moment in the spotlight at the age of five.
Now the York dance tutor, regular dance captain and choreographer for myriad Grand Opera House pantomimes is starring in York Stage’s debut pantomime, Jack And The Beanstalk.
She forms part of the all-action ensemble with Danielle Mullan and Matthew Ives in writer-director Nik Briggs’s production at the Covid-secure, socially distanced, beanstalk-staired Theatre @41 Monkgate.
Here Emily answers Charles Hutchinson’s scattergun questions on pantomimes past, present and future, heroes, villains and fairies, 2020 and 2021.
What was the first pantomime you ever saw and what do you recall of it?
“Cinderella at the Grand Opera House, York. Frazer Hines was Buttons and I was about five years old. We were seated in a box closest to the stage and in the song sheet, when they asked for children to go up on stage, my Dad lifted me over the edge so I could run up.
“We did I Am The Music Man and they kept me up as the last child to finish it by myself. That was my first ever panto experience and my first ever time on stage.”
What was your first pantomime role?
“Grumpy the dwarf in Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs.”
What has been your favourite pantomime role?
“I’ve LOVED all of my years as a dancer. However, I think covering for Debbie McGee as Fairy in Beauty And The Beast when she was doing Strictly, and getting to work alongside the lovely Lynne McGranger, was a highlight. I really enjoy the acting part of things.”
Who have you not yet played in pantomime that you would love to play and why?
“I’d love to actually play the Fairy for a full run, or at the other end of the scale, an evil queen/baddie role.”
Who is your favourite pantomime performer and why?
“I’ve worked with so many people whose talent I admire and have learnt so much from watching how different people work. As a teenager, I worked with Michael Starke, as the Emperor of China, who was totally professional, hard working, and just a genuinely lovely person. Although, after this show, I feel like I may have some new favourites!”
This year’s pantomime will be an experience like no other…what are your expectations of performing a show in these strange circumstances?
“This year’s show is already filled with so much joy and appreciation from us all as a cast. I’m hoping the audience will share that joy with us – everyone will just be so happy to see live theatre again.
“The performance space is much more intimate here, which brings a whole new element to it.”
Which pantomime role should Boris Johnson play and why?
“Hmmmmm…maybe the Genie of the Ring. They often have a lot of power but are not quite sure how to use it in the best way. A difficult situation to be in!”
Who or what has been the villain of 2020?
Who or what has been the fairy of 2020?
“Nik Briggs. 100 per cent!!!!!”
How would you sum up 2020 in five words?
“Enlightening. Chance to re-evaluate priorities.”
What are your wishes for 2021?
“For Covid to be under control or, even better, be gone completely, so that I can give my Mum and Dad a hug! I also want to perform as much as possible if I can. 2020 has certainly cemented just how much I love the theatre.”
What are your hopes for the world of theatre in 2021?
“For theatre to return quickly and safely and things to get back to normal, but with a whole new level of appreciation, as soon as possible.”
York Stage presents Jack And The Beanstalk at Theatre @41 Monkgate, York, until January 3 2021.
Show times: December 15 and 16, 7pm; December 18, 7pm (sold out); December 19, 11am, 2pm (sold out) and 7pm; December 20, 11am, 1pm (sold out) and 6pm; December 21, 7pm; December 22, 2pm (sold out) and 7pm; December 23, 11am, 2pm (sold out) and 7pm; Christmas Eve, December 24, 11am, 1pm (sold out) and 5pm (sold out).
Boxing Day, December 26, 11am, 2pm (sold out) and 7pm; December 27, 11am, 1pm (sold out) and 6pm; December 28, 11am, 2pm (sold out) and 7pm; December 29 and 30, 2pm and 7pm; New Year’s Eve, December 31, 12 noon.
Box office: online only at yorkstagepanto.com. Please note, audiences will be seated in household/support bubble groupings only.