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Shrewsbury’s dame talks to J&PR about all things panto
11 Dec 2019
by Rebecca Dutton

For those who have already seen Shrewsbury’s pantomime Aladdin at Theatre Severn, you’ll know just how incredible it is.

For those who still have the experience to come, get ready for a magical performance!

One of the stars of the show is Brad Fitt, who is celebrating his ninth year as director and Dame of Shrewsbury’s pantomime.

“I did have one year in trousers when I played Buttons in Cinderella,” he said. 

“I feel as though Shrewsbury is my second home. I love coming back here and performing in the pantomime at Christmas.

“I was resident Dame in Cambridge for many years and when the opportunity came to play the Dame at the newly opened Theatre Severn, I knew it was something I couldn’t pass up on.

“I enjoy playing the Dame as it’s one of the characters that can speak directly to the audience and, as the Dame, you are the engine behind the whole show. It all runs to the pace that you set and you have a direct influence on every other character.”

Brad said his favourite pantomime is usually the one he is currently working on but he did admit to having a soft spot for Dick Whittington.

He said: “I think it has a strong story and plenty of scope for comedy. It also has a nautical feel to it which means you can do a lot of the old routines such as the mop routine and the onboard scenes.”

Brad said he loves working with new people but said it is always fun to reconnect with previous cast members.

“I think the audience like to see familiar faces just as much as they like new people joining the team,” he said.

“When you have returning cast members, you can pick up on familiar jokes and storylines from previous years. Everyone expects me to have a dig at Eric Smith now – it doesn’t have to be set up new every season.”

Brad has directed every pantomime he has ever performed in.

He said: “I have no idea what it would be like to not direct myself. 

“I always think it would be nice to be directed and then sit outside the rehearsal room with a coffee after rehearsing a scene but if I’m not in the scene, then I’m directing everyone else. I’m always the last person to learn the script but I think I’d find it hard not to be in charge, I’m too much of a control freak!”

Despite pantomime being incredibly tiring, Brad said it is a wonderful way to become tired.

“We have just as much fun onstage as you have offstage and the more the audience join in the more we put into it.
“I always say that the audience are the final character in any pantomime – you have just as big a part to play as all those of us onstage.”
On Christmas Day, Brad will be at home in North Norfolk. He usually gets home around 9pm on Christmas Eve and leaves again for Shrewsbury at 6am on Boxing Day to get back for the matinee.

It’s one of the few days off during the run so other than a walk on the beach with the dogs and the family in the morning, it’s a very lazy day on the sofa with frequent naps and mince pies.”

Aladdin runs until Sunday, January 12. To book tickets, see the website at www.theatresevern.co.uk or call the Box Office on 01743 281281.