‘‘It’s fantastic to be back at the Theatre Royal – it is so beautiful,” Anita Harris enthuses. “We are quite early I think. How lovely that we can really kick off the season.”
The 1960s pop icon and star of Carry On films is no stranger to entertaining an audience, but what she is most looking forward to is creating some magic.
She plays The Fairy, alongside Matthew Kelly (as The King), presenter of Stars in their Eyes, and Bond girl Britt Ekland (Man With the Golden Gun), who plays the evil Fleshcreep. There are also special appearances by Postman Pat and Jess the cat – as themselves.
Anita is looking forward to playing a nice character.
“I was here last year playing the Wicked Witch and I so love to come here, but what’s really nice, I suppose, is that this time I get to cast some magic for the children as the nice fairy.
“We haven’t yet decided if I’m going to be an airy fairy or a lairy fairy, but we’re going to have lots of fun with it.”
This production is not just for the children, though.
“I think panto time is such a comforting time to bring the whole family together. It spreads right across different age groups; old and young enjoy it. And it’s often the first opportunity for children to go to the theatre
“On a more personal level, as the fairy, I want to grant wishes and I hope I can make dreams come true.”
The cast has only nine days of rehearsals, but Anita is not worried.
“It’s such a great team of people, and when you are a happy team, you help to keep each other going.
“It is an intense month, but actually the audience interaction is different every night and that is what is brilliant.”
Anita played Nurse Clarke in the 1968 film Carry on Doctor and there are plenty of laughs for adults in Jack and the Beanstalk, but she insists: “One mustn’t take away the magic of what it is about. We hope to keep a strong storyline for the children.”
Now more than ever, Anita believes panto season can offer relief to families struggling with the growing costs of Christmas, and hopes this production can ease people’s worries.
“It’s so important to have pantos at Christmas, and we want everybody who comes to see the production to be in good health and good spirits.
“It’s that feeling of being in the theatre when you hear the opening music and you can feel the excitement building, and that is the reason why we can get out and do it every night.
“The curtains go up and it’s like creating magic. Well, that’s what we hope to achieve.”
■ Anita is casting her spell in Jack and the Beanstalk at Theatre Royal Windsor from Wednesday, December 5 until Sunday, January 6 at 7pm daily. Matinees on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 1.30pm, Thursdays at 10.30am, Saturdays and Sundays at 1pm and 4pm.
To book, call the box office on 01753 853 888.