NEILSON’S COLUMN (October 9, 2014): High hopes as daughter tries to beat audition odds

Believe it or not, the acting profession is well and truly gearing up for panto.

When I say acting profession, I mean those of us who regularly perform in panto.

On Sunday, I took my daughter to audition for a dancing role in Sleeping Beauty at The Hawth in Crawley. When we arrived, the queue of hopefuls was snaking its way out of the door and right across the front of the theatre.

A total of two hundred and twenty schoolgirls had turned up for a total of twenty four places.

Actually, these are not bad odds when it comes to auditioning. When I auditioned for South Pacific in London’s West End, around eighteen hundred guys were seen for sixteen roles. Anyway, my daughter went in with all the others, a little nervous, but ok. All the parents waited patiently in the foyer of The Hawth, sipping coffee, reading the Sunday papers, or in my case, pacing around outside.

After about an hour, the first cut was made. The parents of the unlucky ones picked up their kids from the stage door and made their way home. My kid was still in! Another hour went by. We were all told to wait at the stage door again. My daughter didn’t appear. Blimey, she was still in. The final round commenced and we waited in the hot October sun, all of us now hoping that our kids would not be dismissed at this late stage. Another group of girls came out, but still no sign of my daughter.

Then the announcement: “If your daughter has not come out, could you please come into the theatre.” She’d done it!

For me, this Christmas means heading to the newly built Theatre Severn in Shrewsbury to play the role of Captain Hook in Peter Pan. It’s a great part, baddies are terrific to play and I can’t wait to start. The producer and I have wanted to work together for years and finally it’s possible.

However, when you’re in panto, you don’t get a lot of time off, so I was concerned that I wouldn’t get to see my daughter in Sleeping Beauty. Luckily, having checked the performance schedules, she is performing when I’m not, so I’ll be driving back from panto in Shrewsbury to watch panto in Crawley.

Update: My stolen underpants have arrived in Cairo and will be appearing in Cinderella. Pantso-mime?