One of the downsides to being a working actor this time of the year is spending time away from family and friends.
Not a problem for two of our three Operation: Save Santa cast who will be driving home for Christmas.
We talked to them about that, pre-show rituals, stealing from sets, unusual talents and stage mishaps they’d rather forget.
Elizabeth Green was born in Norwich and grew up not too far away in Long Stratton.
The ex-Cringleford Primary and Norwich High School for Girls pupil said: “My parents now live in Norwich which is where I’ll be staying.
“Normally I’d be in London so it’s really nice I get to be home for Christmas. See mum and dad, the dog and work at the same time. I grew up doing drama classes every Saturday at The Garage. I did youth theatre round here. I’m excited to be back in my first professional play since graduating.”
Elizabeth, who you may’ve seen in Cameron Mackintosh’s Miss Saigon or on BBC’s Doctors, loved dressing up as a child.
“You know in nativity plays the angels wear those sheets with the gold tinsel? I thought that was the most beautiful dress in the world and wanted to be one of them. From there, my love of acting just grew. I love bringing people together to have a laugh, a cry, to feel connected.”
Convinced she’s currently on Santa’s naughty list, she wouldn’t say why, Elizabeth hopes entertaining youngsters as Flick will win him over.
“I’ve got a bit of time before Christmas Eve. She’s a great character. Very funny, really smart, has a fun relationship with her twin brother. A good Christmas show has a lot of heart, a bit of magic – and Operation: Save Santa has both and lots more. I’m looking forward to being playful, bold, and having a laugh.”
Blessed (?) with the talent of being able to burp on demand, Elizabeth, who’d love to take her love of dressing up to the max by playing Killing Eve’s Villanelle – “I’m alright at accents” she tells me – has a practical pre-show ritual.
“I need my PSP – my pre-show wee – after an incident in my primary school nativity. I think I wet myself. I have a memory of crying… and dampness.”
The Muppet Christmas Carol is the worst festive film? I know, I’m hoping Thetford born and raised Brayden Emmanuel is just getting into character for his role of Flick’s naughty twin brother Seb.
The ex-Queen’s Way and Thetford Academy pupil loved theatre at school, telling me: “Who doesn’t like dressing up. You get to run round on stage in front of people in costumes and have a laugh.”
He also went to a local charity youth club supported by Norfolk-based The Benjamin Foundation.
“They supported the arts a lot, engaging you in theatre as much as possible. They worked with local charities like The Garage and a few other places. We got to make short films, work creatively which is something I’ve always had a passion for. I really found my feet acting-wise at college.”
He too spends the majority of his time living and working in London.
“It’s a great opportunity to be here, living with the family, seeing some local friends. Being at home for the season is really nice.”
Operation: Save Santa is his first professional Christmas show too and he can’t wait to entertain everyone, although not like the time he played Killer Queen in We Will Rock You, telling me: “It was Year 6 and I stacked it off stage in heels. Everyone was in hysterics. I kept singing and got back up.”
The Brussels sprouts fan, who’d love to play Marty McFly in his favourite trilogy, Back to the Future, and does a mean impersonation of The Tube announcer, isn’t now a perennial pump wearer.
“I like to keep sentimental things from shows. Unlike a lot of people I know (where’d you get that nice tiara again Elizabeth?), I don’t steal I ask. Last year I got to keep a pair of heels from a show I did, big golden stilettos.”
He’s looking forward to Operation: Save Santa. He says: “My favourite Christmas movies are Elf and Love Actually because they’re fun, have great comedic timing and good music. Which we have in our show too.”
As a father of a young child myself, I get why Rob Took is okay with being away from home. “I’m looking forward to having some sleep,” the dad-of-two tells me.
Rob, who plays Flick and Seb’s Grandad, has only been to Norwich once before when he appeared in The Kinks musical Sunny Afternoon. He’s no stranger to Christmas shows. Including a memorable appearance in Jack and The Beanstalk.
“I was the front-end of the cow. At one point, the person behind me in the costume has to sit on a chair and I have to sit on their lap. As I sat down, my udders flipped up. One got caught between my legs as I crossed them. The Dame and Silly Billy character couldn’t contain themselves and I didn’t know what was going because I couldn’t see.”
Luckily the cow in our show is 2D.
Disappointed at not being able to have his regular interval cuppa, tea-loving Rob, who could guest teach our breakdancing class based on the moves he busted when I asked if he had any surprising talents, was inspired by his secondary school drama teacher Norman Comer (who played the leader of the cybermen in 1980s Doctor Who).
Rob says: “With theatre, you’re thrown together for a very short space of time to create something wonderful, with a load of strangers, and you become a family. That’s one of the loveliest things to do.”
Operation: Save Santa runs from 9 December 2022 – 8 January 2023.
We and All-In Productions are also staging My First: Into The Snow Globe for ages 0-5 from 15-31 December. There will a range of free activities for children too. These include Comedy Club 4 Kids, a silent disco and festive themed play sessions.
Our friendly front of house team is happy to answer any questions. Give them a call on 01603 283382 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
what people thought of previous shows
My First Panto: Goldilocks and the Three Bears has been called “an innovative online experience” that created “an authentic panto feel right at home” in reviews.
STRESS-FREE, HILARIOUS AND A FUN WAY TO INTRODUCE CHILDREN TO SHAKESPEARE SAY MY FIRST PLAY: A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S NAP REVIEWS
22/07/2019 The first reviews for My First Play: A Midsummer Night’s Nap are in. The EDP said: “Speaking as a mum of a five-year-old who doesn’t enjoy large crowds
25/04/2019 We’re missing My First Circus’ The Littlest Mermaid who has returned to her underwater kingdom after more than a week at The Garage. Nearly 1,200 people came