He's behind you!

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 18 November, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 18 November, 2007, 12:00am

Snow White and seven dwarves are coming soon to a theatre near you. But don't assume you know the story: as three of the principals explain, when you go to a pantomime, you never know what to expect.

'Everybody knows the children's story. But this fairy tale-turned-pantomime is for both kids and adults,' says Hamish Campbell, a Year 12 student at South Island School.

The British art of pantomime differs from most shows as the audience is encouraged to interact with the actors. Viewers are expected to boo the bad guys and cheer the good guys.

'You're meant to go and enjoy yourself,' said Molly Campbell, 17, Hamish's sister, also from South Island School.

'You can sing along if you like, and it would be lovely if you danced, too.'

Although panto is relaxed, there are certain rules: the show happens around Christmas time. The lead male role, whether Cinderella or Peter Pan, is played by a woman. The 'panto dame' - often the hero's mum - is played by a man dressed as a woman.

'The good thing about being in a pantomime is that, if a character loses his place, he can say, 'Sorry, I forgot my line'. They're meant to interact with the audience and make them laugh,' says Hamish.

Usually, the lead roles are given to adults because they are more experienced and more comfortable interacting with the audience.

Hamish and Molly say their co-star Micah Sandt is like his fashion-forward character Zhuzzhy. 'I like clothes, maybe that's why,' says Micah, 17, from Island School. 'I'm not an expert, but I do enjoy shopping.'

Hamish, Molly and Micah were so impressive at the auditions that they were offered the roles of dwarves. Each of the dwarves has distinct characteristics - but they are very different from the storybook or Disney versions.

Hamish plays Yorky, a glum miner from northern England.

'I don't think I relate much to Yorky because I'm quite young and want to get up and do things and this guy is really slow and boring,' says Hamish. 'I had to work on the Yorkshire accent. It was hard at first, but lots of fun.'

Molly's character Hilty is based on Paris Hilton.

'I really like my character, but I wouldn't say Paris Hilton is an idol. It's a lot of fun to just let loose and be a brat for 90 minutes,' says Molly.

The trio have been rehearsing for 11 hours a week for several months, but they say they're still enjoying it.

'We just love working with adults. They're very professional and the quality of the rehearsals is more focused than for school plays,' says Micah.

'In school, someone's always absent. But here, everybody's here not because they have to, but because they truly love what they are doing.'

All three are careful not to let the show distract them from their studies.

'If you make time, and keep yourself organised, then you can make it. I'd have to say, if I weren't in the show, I wouldn't be as independent as I am now,' says Molly. 'Our parents are quite strict with us: they tell us if we can keep up our school work, we can stay in the production. Otherwise we'll have to drop out. This makes us work harder.'

The Snow White cast have put together a team for today's Matilda Hospital Sedan Chair race - so if you are up on the Peak, look out for them.

Snow White: November 28-December 2, HK Arts Centre. Tickets from Urbtix.