Johnny Mcknight talks Christmas


For some people Christmas comes around only once a year, for me Christmas is a year-long event.  Last year’s Sleeping Beauty finished on Hogmanay.  I started work on Snow White on the 3rd of January (obviously I needed a few days to properly celebrate New Year!)  Whenever I sit down to write panto it usually begins with a panic, a blank screen, a handful of doubt and then, hopefully…. a spark of…. something.  This year the spark began with just two lines of dialogue:

WITCH.  Would you like an apple dear?
SNOW.  An apple?  Seriously?  Do you no’ have any Quavers?
Johnny as Fairy Kylie Contrary in last year’s panto Sleeping Beauty.

That’s where it started, Snow White wasn’t to be a simpering princess.  She should be tough, strong, and she’s not interested in some Prince saving her.  But who, oh who, was the Dame?  How do I make the Prince interesting?  And who are the Young Company?  Is it not rather boring if they’re dwarves (and is that even politically correct any more?)
And then the second spark appeared, on the 23rd of January, at the *whispers* Edinburgh Kings.  I went to see the Sound of Music.  And as soon as Maria appeared I thought – that’s her, that’s the Dame – she’s a nun sent to look after Snow White and her brothers and sisters – and they’re not Von Trapps, they’re the De Wharffs.  From there it started to fall into place, which was quite lucky because the first draft was due in before the end of the March.
In April the core creative team get together.  Thankfully Alan Penman (Composer) and Karen Martin (Choreographer) are back on board this year.  I am beyond delighted as I think they are amongst, if not the, best at their game.  Then we started casting.  I don’t know if I’m allowed to reveal who is in it this year (don’t know if the contracts are signed and sealed) but I can say, it is an incredible acting company, and I genuinely can not wait to start.
In May we auditioned the Young Company.  That’s always the hardest part – we had close to 100 people and you can only pick 32.  You’d think being Simon Cowell would be fun, getting to say no to people but it isnt.  If I could I would have everyone on the stage as the talents gets stronger and stronger every year.
Johnny McKnight in Sleeping Beauty 2009
And then the second draft of the script is due before June.
July is talking with the designer, costume designer, pouring over the model box whilst wearing Factor 30 (okay who am I kidding, a rain mate was more likely this July!)
And then in August we start rehearsing with Young Company.  Honestly.  In AUGUST.  I’m singing All I Want For Christmas Is You in August!
September is more rehearsing, finalising tracks, design, choreographic ideas, and panicking that the script isn’t funny enough.
And then in October it’ll be the final draft of script due in, making up my Directors folder before rehearsals (oh and obviously a wee holiday before I start).
And then we’re back, full-time, every day in November rehearsing, sweating, forgetting (our lines) and trying to not bump into the furniture.
And then we’re on.  November and December.  And then it’s Christmas, only this time for everyone.
I’m just really lucky that, for me, it comes around more than once a year.
Sleeping Beauty 2009
Looking forward to seeing everyone this year at Snow White.
Ta ta for now
Johnny x
P.S. watch this space for more behind the scenes of this years Panto!
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5 Responses to Johnny Mcknight talks Christmas

  1. chloe says:

    The Panto is sounding good!!!! I can’t wait to see it, good luck!!!

  2. Paul Roach says:

    The kids (and the kidults) are already looking forward to it, can’t wait, only decision is how many times to go and see it.

  3. rachael hood says:

    i am goingto the panto this year and i cant wait i have love the ones in the past

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