A Chichester mother and daughter will both be following the Yellow Brick Road this Christmas – in separate productions of The Wizard of Oz just seven miles apart.
“It’s going to be an absolutely wizard Christmas in our house,” said Vicky Edwards, who is delighted at the coincidence.
Daughter Lily (15) said: “I am really happy to have been cast in the Chichester Festival Youth Theatre’s production.
“We have only just started rehearsing and already I can tell that it is going to be fantastic. I am playing a snowman and an Ozian and I am so excited!”
As for mum Vicky, she will be treading the boards as the Good Witch of the North just up the (yellow brick) road in Bognor Regis in the pantomime version of L Frank Baum’s classic story.
“The two productions have the story in common, but otherwise I suspect they will be quite different,” said Vicky.
“Lucy Betts is directing the Youth Theatre in a faithful adaptation that was originally commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company, while Bognor’s show, directed by Bev Berridge of Spillers Family Pantomimes, will be rich in traditional panto slapstick, comedy and general daftness.
“Both productions will be brilliant,” says Vicky, who has a long-standing relationship with both the CFT and Bognor’s Alexandra Theatre.
“Back in the Dark Ages of the 1980s I got my Equity card at CFT. Over the years I have appeared in productions, run youth theatre sessions and worked backstage and in the press office. It is a place that holds so many happy memories.
“As for Bognor, I made my panto debut there seven years ago and have been lucky enough to be invited back regularly. I adore it! The people are lovely and it is just the happiest place to spend the festive season.”
Lily, who made her CFT debut in the Minerva Theatre at the age of eight playing a small role in the play Canvas, is also champing at the bit.
“I feel so lucky to be part of the youth theatre. Doing shows is just part of the experience of being a CFYT member. We also have brilliant workshop sessions and get to work with amazing people. We learn so many skills that we can use in life as well as in performance.”
A pupil at Bishop Luffa School, Lily is adamant that juggling schoolwork with the production is a challenge that she is happy to embrace.
“It actually helps me to be organised. I know that I have to plan properly so that I keep on top of homework, so I make a schedule and try to stick to it. Working in professional theatre requires dedication and discipline; you have to try to make what you do look easy and that takes a lot of hard work and commitment.”
Will they get to see each other in action?
“There is one performance in my schedule that mum isn’t performing on, so she has already bought tickets for her and dad,” said Lily, adding: “and mum’s production runs a week longer so I’ll get to see her perform then.”
“It’s a good job that my husband likes cooking because Lily and I will be too shattered from going over the rainbow to make Christmas day lunch,” joked Vicky. “He’s definitely on kitchen duty!”