We chat to the talented LIPA students who have been cast in this year’s Everyman Rock ‘n’ Roll panto
3 months ago
It’s ‘cue action’ for three young LIPA students who’ve been added to the cast and creatives list for this year’s famous Everyman Rock ‘n’ Roll panto.
Grace Venus is making her professional stage debut in the title role of this year’s production of Cinderella, while Kolade T. Ladipo is Vogue Consultant and choreographer for a dazzling Vogue ball scene, and Joey Colasante is assistant director.
“To have this opportunity, to perform in a real theatre, and see how things really work is exciting,” says Grace. “Before rehearsals started I was really nervous, but everyone has been wonderful, and so caring, it feels like a family.”
Joey adds: “I just want to have fun and spread a little holiday joy – and I believe audiences are going to love what we’re doing. They’re in for a treat.”
Find out people have to say about this year’s Everyman Rock ‘n’ Roll Panto
Both Joey, 21, and Grace, 20, are in their third year of LIPA’S BA Degree Acting Course, while Kolade, 23, is also in his third year but studying acting and digital media.
They each have different roles to play in the Hope Street theatre’s always-popular panto, but they’re equally excited about what they are doing and what’s ahead.
Grace is Ellanora – aka Cinderella – in the panto and has been given this semester off from her school studies to ‘fully commit’ to her first major role. Although she says: “I will be graded on this!
“My course leader has been having a phone calls and emails with the director to see how things are going and will come and watch a few of the shows. It’s nice because it’s bridging the gap between drama school and the industry.
“I want to do film and TV work once I graduate and start my career. Doing the show has reminded how much I love musical theatre and performance through dance.
“It is a little bit daunting following in the footsteps of so many famous people with such prestige and a brilliant reputation at the Everyman, but the only thing I can strive to do is get on that stage and do the best performance I can, and have the most fun I can.”
Joey, who’s originally from Pennsylvania in the US, has already begun a steep learning curve, catching up on everything that makes a traditional panto: “I didn’t realise water guns were such a major part of it,” he laughs.
“So a lot is about acknowledging what is expected and keeping that traditional alive.”
While he’ll finish his drama course, Joey has come to the decision he doesn’t want to be an actor, but the panto will enable him to put all his training and what he’s learned into other avenues, like directing.
He has already worked with Cinderella director James Baker on other productions and, as well as supporting him, Joey’s role as assistant director is to teach the understudies. He says: “There are two understudies, who each have four roles to play, and it’s my job to teach them the show as best I can and to champion James’ panto mission for them.”
For Joey it’s already been amazing: “To be in this world where I’m learning how does a producer speak to a director, and all the difference intricacies about the chain of command and see hands-on how it all happens is a wonderful experience.
“But we can learn and respect where this British institution has come from – and bring in a new perspective too. We’re the fresh young things!”
Last, but most certainly not least, is Kolade who, as well as being a LIPA student is a daughter and dancer of the famous House of Suarez. And it’s a combination of both that’s led to him being brought in to add strut and sass to the ultimate Cinderella ball scene.
Pantos are all about glitz and glamour, but thanks to Kolade, the Everyman panto this year is going to have that – and so much more.
Kolade, who is also a social media and hate crime campaigner, says: “The traditional ball scene in Cinderella is very much a 21st Century waltz with a man and a woman, very binary – but this is going to be completely different.
“It doesn’t speak to gender, it speaks to the LGBTQ+ community and I have choreographed it with each of the Vogue categories specific to the characters and themes of Cinderella, and brought in Vogue ball culture.
“It’s going to be amazing, and everyone has been working really hard, I’m very proud of them.”
Kolade adds: “To be part of this means a lot, and really solidifies where I am and where I am going in my career.
“I really enjoy doing movement direction like this, and this is an incredible opportunity for me.
“I am a black queer man – and representation is very important to me – and a Vogue consultant, and to be able to combine those and showcase the Vogue art form on such a global stage is a huge privilege.”