Sunday, 10 January 2016

It's Not So Easy Being Evil!

Elisa Jones has been with The Wight Strollers a long time. Like many of our members, she has grown up with the group. 

Her first panto was Cinderella, performed in February 1997, when Elisa was just five years old.

Now 24, she’s been part of the dance troupe, the cast and the production crew over the years and has played parts ranging from Percy the Parrot to Aladdin!

This, however, is her first time playing a villain, so we wanted to sit down and have a chat about her time with the Strollers, her fondest memories and, of course, the nefarious Queen Avarice!


So, Elisa, how are you feeling about playing your first pantomime villain?

I’m really excited - I’ve never done it before and it’s so different to all the other parts I’ve played. I’ve always found principal [girl/boy] parts quite difficult because they’re so not me, whereas this I can really kind of relate to, in a way – oh no, that makes me sound like a bit of a psycho, doesn’t it?

No, of course not! Besides, everyone secretly loves the villains!*

*Note: At this point, we did politely decline the offered apple juice and put Prince Ferdinand on speed dial…just in case!

In all seriousness, villains are fantastic characters to play but they must come with their downsides! For you, what’s been the hardest thing about playing the iconic Wicked Queen? 

Trying not to be too happy! And to come across really evil all the time, you do feel like you can’t really interact with people at rehearsals too much because then you get out of the ‘mood’ and you kind of need to stay in some kind of ‘evil fixation’ mode to stay in character.

Speaking of staying in character, do you have any tips and tricks that you use to get into the ‘Queen Avarice’ zone before a rehearsal?

I always wear quite severe make-up to rehearsals, because I feel like that makes my face and lips stand out and I feel a bit more in character. And again, not interacting too much with people – a lot of the time I just sit in a corner and read my lines to myself, pulling an evil face!

Brilliant! As those who come along to see our show will find out, the Seven Dwarfs actually used to work at the palace, until the Wicked Queen got rid of them – so which dwarf do you think really rattled her cage and pushed her over the edge?

Definitely Smiley. I think she hated Smiley the most because he was just too…well, smiley! He smiles too much. She didn’t like that.

Another silly question: if you had a real-life Magic Mirror, what would you ask it?

I would ask it how much longer I will have to wait before I can play a white mouse with the Strollers! Because it’s been almost 20 years and I’ve still not played one! I was a black mouse in Cinderella when I first started. Then I was a black rat. And then a black cat. And always a boy, too! My first female part was a fairy in Dick Whittington [2010].

What colour was your costume for that?


Ah. Moving on…!

Reminiscing a little here, what would you say have been some of the ‘stand-out’ moments for you, since joining The Wight Strollers all the way back in September 1996?

My first part, as a 6 foot parrot [Robinson Crusoe, 2005] - Lord only knows how I have lost that costume! Then there was the time the ‘Thriller’ [Mother Goose, 2001] tunnel collapsing on about 3 or 4 of us as we were going on stage! My first principal part [Aladdin, 2009] with my best friend as principal girl, and being trusted with my first solo and duet! The horse pooing on the stage [Cinderella, 2006] was also rather memorable…

And if you had to pick an absolute favourite memory? Which would take the crown?

Performing ‘Don't Stop Me Now’ alongside Papa Jones [Elisa’s dad, Rob, who this year will be playing Sniffle the dwarf] as Herman and Horrace, with Brian Newton as the Wicked Queen [Snow White, 2008] - I just hope I do the part justice for him! It's always been one of my favourite songs anyway, and performing it with those two was a ball!

Finally, Elisa, we’d like to ask our cheesiest question: What’s the best thing about being a member of The Wight Stroller?

My favourite thing about being in the Strollers is that you open yourself up to the biggest second family, bigger than you ever thought possible! Everyone loves everybody and any stressful rehearsal becomes an extremely fun experience.

I have created lifelong friendships through the Strollers, and have played a variety of roles from acting on stage to assisting with scenery building to being part of the stage crew and even being Stage Manager. I have learned a lot through the years and it’s has helped me with many other things, like organising Global Rock Challenge and of course helping to lead our carnival entries in the summer.

There is always something on the horizon whether it's an after show party, a car treasure hunt or the next carnival. Even better, all of the work we do is for local charities, and the money raised over the years is astounding...not bad for a bunch of ‘amateurs!’

Quite so! Over £130,000 and counting – I think we can all be very proud!

To see Elisa in action as Queen Avarice, book your tickets for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, being performed at Medina Theatre on February 13th, 14th and 20th. Trust us, you won't regret it!

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