Derry’s Panto Princess talks Kylie Minogue, Duran Duran and Sleeping Beauty in the Forum
Rehearsals are well underway in the Millennium Forum for this years Christmas panto Sleeping Beauty.
Limavady woman Rachael O’Connor will be playing Sleeping Beauty and she took time out of her busy schedule to have a chat with the ‘Journal.
She said, “Rehearsals are going well so far. It’s so great to be back in a rehearsal room. It’s always a bit nerve wracking at the start but I am loving it now. “
When asked how she enjoys being the star of the show, Rachael replied, “I wouldn’t say I’m the star of the show, there are a lot of stars in this show. But it’s great, I love playing the princess in the panto so I can’t complain.
“When I was younger my nanny used to take me and my cousins to watch the panto, it was an annual tradition and there was always children in the chorus. I was always so jealous of those children thinking ‘I wish I was on that stage!’ So it’s great now,childhood me would be buzzing to see me where I am.”
Rachael is no stranger to the stage as she was on popular tv show The Voice a few years ago. She was the youngest contestant ever on Team Kylie Minogue and she feels she has come a long way since then.
She explains, “That was in 2016, which is mental. It was an amazing experience but a total whirlwind. I was scouted at school, they came and we sang and it all happened very quickly. I didn’t plan that, it just happened and it was an unbelievable experience. I think that’s what kickstarted my career, I met people and my confidence grew as I was given more opportunities so I’m very grateful for that experience.
“Kylie was lovely, she was so down-to-earth and nurturing. She kept me calm the whole time.”
Kylie isn’t the only famous person Rachael has worked with.
“I’m working with Duran Duran now. It’s very new to me but so far it’s been amazing. They are so welcoming and so nurturing. They are teaching me a lot of stuff so it’s really unbelievable.
“In terms of acting, I haven’t done as much professionally as I have singing. I went to drama classes when I was younger and I always wanted to be an actress, even before I could sing. I’ve done a few local productions and I did Greece here in the Millennium when I was 16 and things like that. Our director Jonathan Burgess would direct a lot of plays so I’ve done a bit of work for him the past few years. I’m really enjoying getting to act now because I don’t get to do it often.
So, what about the panto itself? Rachael won’t give much away but she says the audience is in for a treat.
“It’s been two years since any of us have been doing a panto and we all love it here. It’s energetic, it’s funny and it has some great songs in it. The dancers are unbelievable. So, be prepared for an energetic show, because we’re all so excited to be back.
“Everything’s very Covid safe in rehearsals too, we all get our temperature checked on arrival by a machine that does face recognition and then we get a Covid test. We’re all vaccinated anyway but it’s still important to take precautions.”
Rachael is joined by William Caulfield, who plays Dame Nanny Cranny, while Karen Hawthorne returns as the evil Carabosse. Local actor, Conor O’Kane, will be Prince Charming, Orla Mullan is the Lilac Fairy and Keith Lynch, the loveable sidekick, Pickles.
The panto will run for a month from Friday, November 26 to Sunday, January 2 with a signed performance at 7pm on Thursday, December 2 and a relaxed performance on Saturday, December 4 at 2pm. Tickets are available from the Millennium Forum Box Office and are priced from £12.00. Telephone 71 264455 or visit millenniumforum.co.uk for bookings.
The Millennium Forum has implemented a range of Covid safety procedures to ensure the healthy and safe return to events.
Customers should also note that 24 hour car parking is available in the East Car Park at Foyleside.