Southport actor Emma Grace Arends is looking to make a splash when she stars in the Sleeping Beauty pantomime this May and June.
Emma, who starred as the only live character Daisy, in Peppa Pig; My First Cinema Experience, will be appearing in panto alongside pop star Gareth Gates, Bippo the clown and others.
It is a hugely exciting return to the theatre for families in the region, who have missed out on live performances during the last few months of Covid lockdowns.
Sleeping Beauty is running between 29th May and 5th June at the M&S Bank Arena Liverpool.
Emma said: “I am just so happy that theatres and other venues are finally reopening and productions are getting things going again. It is so positive.
“This is a really big step for the theatre companies. Some tried to reopen last December, but then suddenly had to close again when Covid cases started to rise. It has taken a long time to happen. I’m proud of the production companies that are taking that leap of faith.”
After more than a year of closures, there is much anticipation over theatres finally being able to open their doors again. When Emma Grace Arends stars in Sleeping Beauty it will be her first post-lockdown live performance.
When the Evil Carabosse curses Princess Beauty to die on her 21st birthday, Beauty’s Fairy ensures she only falls into a deep sleep which can be broken with a kiss from her true love. A handsome Prince must come to her rescue and save the day.
The show also features a live band, beautiful scenery and costumes, special effects, and lots of laughs.
Emma is best known as the only live character Daisy, in Peppa Pig; My First Cinema Experience and has travelled the world with the show. She performed in Sydney’s Opera House and two UK no.1 Tours with four Christmas West End residencies including The Duke of Yorks Theatre, The Criterion and The Phoenix Theatre.
To lift spirits during the first wave of the pandemic, Emma dressed up as Daisy and surprised her fans with safe garden visits – with social distance measures in place – and personalised videos. All the proceeds went to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool.
She said: “It has been a bit of a roller coaster these last few months.
“I was on a tour that got cancelled due to Covid. I decided to leave London and come back up North to Southport with my Mum and Dad and we all locked down together. We have all been super careful.
“It has been really nice to be with family during lockdown and my heart goes out to people who might not have had that support during this time.
“Our mental health this year – this pandemic is going to affect people massively and we just need to take each day step by step and not put too much pressure on ourselves or others.
“So many people have been out of work, worried about money / jobs / how long this pandemic and lockdowns will last which has been hard but on the flip side it was quite nice to just stop rushing around and enjoy a slower pace of life for a little while and just breath – which was probably quite nice – enjoying the nature around us.
“We have been out for walks at the Marine Lake, Hesketh Park, the Botanic Gardens, along Lord Street, and lots of other lovely places in Southport. I think we have been so lucky being here during lockdown.
“I just started doing lockdown videos and visits to cheer people up, I was so in awe of the NHS I wanted to be able to give something back in my own field of work. I have enjoyed doing them.”
It has been a long wait, for both actors / production crews and for audiences to be able to get back to enjoying live performances again.
It is something which has been a lifelong passion for Emma.
She grew up in Southport and fell in love with performing at an early age.
At 16 she attended London’s Arts Ed 6th form as a compromise with her mum to finish off her studies. She then went on to the three-year BA honours degree at Arts Ed Drama School and has toured with Open Air Shakespeare companies playing roles such as Hermia, Juliet and Hero. She also performed at The Liverpool Empire years ago as Young Helen in Twopence to Cross the Mersey.
Emma worked on ITV’s Cilla as the choreographer in Liverpool with our national treasure Sheridan Smith.
Before the pandemic Emma starred in a TV pilot in Los Angeles called Across The Pond and has been seen all year in the Galbani Television advert.
Many children in the audience at Sleeping Beauty will recognise her as Daisy from Peppa Pig; My First Cinema Experience.
Emma said: “It really was a lovely thing to do!
“I had never done kids’ TV before Peppa Pig; My First Cinema Experience.
“Since appearing in the film I have had some lovely messages from children and parents who have enjoyed watching it and something even telling me how their children have improved with their speech or development – which just melts my heart.”
She grew up in Southport, a place which is pantomime crazy. The town has historically staged pantos at Southport Little Theatre, The Atkinson and Southport Theatre every year.
Sadly the pantos were all cancelled last year due to the pandemic and Emma is hoping that families will now be able to enjoy watching Sleeping Beauty in Liverpool this May and June.
She said: “I was in the panto at Southport Theatre in 2019, and used to love watching pantos in Southport when I was growing up. Southport is panto mad!
“I used to appear in the All Souls panto productions, and in the Little Theatre shows. We used to go and see the big ones at the Floral Hall. I used to go to Miss Bambers dance school in Southport, I was one of the ‘Bambers Babes’. I loved it, I have very fond memories.
“Sleeping Beauty looks like it is going to do really well. People are really keen to be back in, and tickets are selling really well already. It has been a really positive reaction. All of my friends are bringing their kids!
“The pandemic has been so hard for children these past few months. They have not been able to see their friends, they have not been able to go to school, they have not been able to enjoy days out or do things like seeing live performances.
“Being able to come back into the theatre and seeing them interact with the cast is going to be so exciting.
“When I was younger, I loved going to the theatre to watch shows, and I used to think ‘that is what I want to do when I’m older’!
“For the past year children have not been able to go out, play football, experience theatre, get involved in new activities and find a passion for what they might want to do when they’re older, whatever that might be.”
Rehearsals come next, as well as meeting her new co-stars. The buzz of live shows is something Emma has missed. So is being out at all, and getting back to enjoying some of the things that people used to do before lockdowns.
Things will be done with safety first in mind. The seating capacity at the M&S Bank Arena in Liverpool has been reduced from 1,350 to under 500 for Sleeping Beauty.
There will be 1 Metre+ social distancing in the auditorium, with a one way system in place around the venue with hand sanitiser stations available throughout.
Hopefully, by the time Sleeping Beauty wakes up, she won’t even know there’s been a pandemic…
Emma said: “I can’t wait to start doing things again. One of the first things I wanted to do when things open up again , was to go out for a meal, I can’t wait to go back to Bistrot Verite in Birkdale Village in Southport. I love it there. The food is gorgeous and there is always a really lovely atmosphere. It is really nice for small businesses to be back open again.”
Emma is now looking forward to starring in Sleeping Beauty alongside pop star Gareth Gates.
Gareth was the runner-up in the first series of the ITV talent show Pop Idol in 2002 and has sold over 3.5 million records in the UK.
Emma said: “I have not met Gareth yet, so I am looking forward to meeting him.
“I remember the whole thing with Pop Idol, and watching the show with my Mum.
“It is very exciting! I’m looking forward to being back in rehearsals with other actors and can’t wait for the shows to begin.”
- Sleeping Beauty starring Emma Grace Arends and Gareth Gates takes place at The Auditorium, at the M&S Bank Arena, Liverpool, from Saturday, 29th May to Saturday, 5th June, 2021. For tickets please visit: mandsbankarena.com
Do you have a story for Stand Up For Southport? Please message Andrew Brown via Facebook here or email me at: email@example.com