The Talentz is a youth musical theatre company based in Tunbridge Wells and it’s staging its production of Aladdin at the EM Forster theatre in the New Year. Its creative director Debbie King tells the Times what will make their interpretation of this classic pantomime so special
Firstly can you tell us a little bit about your theatre troupe …
We offer weekly classes, workshops, West End trips, and also put on full scale musicals, festivals and an annual showcase. We teach all aspects of the performing arts so our pupils develop a deeper understanding of the industry.
How would you describe your approach to musical theatre?
We pride ourselves on having a personal, nurturing, family feel at Talentz and are lucky to have the most amazing local talent involved. Jack Bennett is our Musical Director and an accomplished, professional musician. Jessica Maple is our dynamic and gifted choreographer and our patron is Jamie Rickers – he’s currently starring in Snow White at the Assembly Hall. Jamie often comes into classes and shares his professional expertise and energy. We also have many guest tutors, who are amazing professional performers and passionate about the performing arts.
When casting roles, what are you looking for from actors?
The cast needs to work as a team, so we require skill and a strong personality. Preparation, passion and enthusiasm are also key to a good audition.
Have any of your students gone on to work in the industry professionally?
Yes, and we have just set up our own agency, so we are looking forward to lots of them getting more professional work in the New Year.
Why did you decide to put on Aladdin this year?
One of our guest tutors, Simon Sladen, who is Senior Curator of Modern and Contemporary Performance at the Victoria and Albert Museum suggested it. He is also Panto Editor for the British Theatre Guide and has written this particular version of Aladdin for us. He co-directed this production with me which has been fabulous. It is so personal for us all and as a result gives the cast a larger sense of pride in performing the show.
What makes this tale such a special one to do for pantomime?
Aladdin is one of Britain’s best loved pantomimes and as Disney’s version is currently showing in the West End we were lucky enough to be treated to a musical theatre workshop before going along to meet the show’s cast and see Aladdin performed in the Prince Edward Theatre.
What will audiences enjoy most about Aladdin?
I hope they will see the passion that has gone into creating this wonderful production. With an age range of 5-18 year old local performers, it has been a great privilege to see a cast of 70-strong, Talentz of all ages, seamlessly working together, doing what they all enjoy; performing. A cast with this much energy and drive cannot fail to put a smile on your face and leave you excited to see what more Talentz has to offer.
Aladdin is on at the EM Forster Theatre from January 5 -8 2017. Tickets cost from £15 per adults and £12 per child. www.boxoffice.tonbridge-school.co.uk