'There's nothing like playing a Dame'

Danny Charles plays Nurse Nala at Hoxton Hall in Sleeping Beauty

Danny Charles plays Nurse Nala at Hoxton Hall in Sleeping Beauty - Credit: Simon Coates Photography

Hoxton Hall's annual family panto is Sleeping Beauty. Aimed at ages 3 to 103, it features a romantic fairytale, a wicked fairy, a dashing hero, tons of adventure and slapstick fun, and an hilarious comic turn from Danny Charles as Dame Nala. We asked him some questions.

Q: Is this your first time performing at Hoxton Hall?

A: No, I was in a production called ‘The Rampant Blade’, back in 1999. Sadly a long time ago, despite the fact I’m only 21. It was a comedy musical. Who knows maybe comedy and musical is my thing?

Q: Have you played a Dame before?

A: No so I’m really excited at the thought of playing Nurse Nala. The last time I was in a panto, I played buttons in Cinderella. Which is a comic role, but its very different to being the dame.

Danny Charles as Nurse Nala in pantomime at Hoxton Hall Christmas 2021

Danny Charles as Nurse Nala in pantomime at Hoxton Hall - Credit: Simon Coates

Q: Tell us about her

A: She's the matriarch of her family, struggling to look after everyone and be there for them all. But since the death of her husband Neville, she is also looking for love. She has a Caribbean background, and I see parallels with my own mother and grandmother, who both went through moments in their lives where they were supporting children on their own.

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Q: Have you got many costume changes and how do you transform yourself?

A: Yes, but not as many as I thought, which I’m a bit relieved about. I’ve seen some productions where the dame seems to be changing nearly every scene. You will definitely be seeing Nala trying to look her best. After all, she’s a natural beauty who just needs a tiny bit of make up to enhance her looks… or maybe not!

Q: What's the most difficult thing about playing the Dame?

A: I start the show as a character called Harry, the caretaker of Hoxton Hall, he then goes off and I have a quick change and put my make up on, so that’s probably the most stressful part of the show. I know this is Panto, but I want Nala to be real within the strange world that we have all created.

Q: And what's the most enjoyable?

A: It's just such a fun role, she is outrageous in the way she looks and behaves and having the chance to be like that on stage is so liberating. But really the most enjoyable is working with such a fantastic, incredibly talented cast.

The cast of Sleeping Beauty which runs at Hoxton Hall Christmas 2021

The cast of Sleeping Beauty which runs at Hoxton Hall Christmas 2021 - Credit: Courtesy of Hoxton Hall

Sleeping Beauty runs until December 24 at Hoxton Hall.

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