Chris Husseyin is the Ticket Office Manager for Swindon Theatres. Having celebrated her 27th work anniversary, she also the longest current serving member of staff! We pulled her aside for a quick chat about her favourite time of year…
So Chris, this year will be your 27th Wyvern Theatre pantomime – why do you think that people return to the theatre for panto year after year?
Well, Panto is such an important part of Christmas for many of us. It’s a chance for families to get together and have a really fun day. There’s something for everyone in the Panto and it reaches all generations, making and bringing back memories which they all can share. Also, it’s such a traditional British event – many families with visitors from abroad will bring them to the show so they can experience it.
Talk us through some of your personal STAND OUT #SwinPanto moments.
My very first Pantomime was Dick Whittington in 1988/89 which starred Peter Denyer. As well as writing for the show he also played King Rat and I think the best King Rat I have seen!
I also remember Matthew Kelly in Cinderella 1991, another great show and I remember how kind he was – even throwing a party for all the staff. He played Buttons and was absolutely fantastic!
Pantomime season is such a lovely time. I know many people have time of over Christmas but for the Wyvern it’s the busiest, I can’t imagine Christmas without it.
How many shows of the pantomime performances are taking place this year? And what was your reaction when you found out this year was going to be Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs with EasterEnders’ Adam Woodyatt?
We have a total of 50 performances this year, from Saturday 5th December to Sunday 3rd January, and are very Lucky to have Adam return to the theatre after many years. I remember when he was here in 1989 (a very young man) when he was in Mother Goose. Adam will appeal to all age groups being part of a very popular programme. He is featured highly with exciting storylines on EastEnders at the moment.
Do you have any ‘inside tips’ for people wanting to have the best #SwinPanto experience?
More and more of our customers are now booking the Panto as an alternative to buying gifts as it’s a chance to spend time together something which can be difficult with everyone leading such busy lives. This year we have introduced an option to Pre Order and Pay for Programmes and Ice Creams at the same time as purchasing tickets for the show. This had proved very popular as the gift has everything paid for in advance. I always advise customers to give themselves extra time for parking on the day as the town is very busy with Christmas shoppers.
Last but certainly not least, who has been your favourite #SwinPanto dame?
I remember Dave Lynn being excellent as a Dame going back a few years but over recent years we have be very lucky to have David Ashley as our Dame. He is amazing and so lovely with both the audience and everyone at the theatre. Many people book again especially to see him!