‘Don’t forget us’ the kids who star in every panto at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre

Dress rehearsal for Waterside panto
Dress rehearsal for Waterside panto

JONATHAN Wilkes and Gillian Wright might be the big name stars but on stage children aged seven to 16 are performing alongside them – many hoping they will become the stars of tomorrow.

Dick Whittington features two casts of youngsters, or ‘juves’, who each perform one day and then rest the next.

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MCBH 52 panto juves dick whittington

The youngsters all took time off school during the rehearsals, and had to prove to parents and teachers that they were not falling behind by keeping up with their studies in their own time.

Jessica Hopkins, 12, of Aston Clinton, who has been part of Aylesbury’s Musical Kidz Company for three years, said: “We get time off school, afternoons or morning, it depends on the call time for the team.

“It is really good, but we got lots of homework as well and we had to catch up with all the lessons we miss.

“But my teachers, friends and family are all so supportive.”

Jessica has also praised the stars of the show, saying: “They are really nice and they really take good care of us.

“They treat us the same as if we were at the same standards as them, and a yes, a few have spoken to us personally, they give us tips on how we could get better, and Christian is really funny.”

Alfie Stewart, 12, of Aylesbury, is the only boy in the cast of juves and has been acting since he was four.

He said: “The first time I got to stand on the stage it was amazing, I though I love this and I really want to do this again.

“The cast are all are really nice, and they are just like ‘wow, you are the only boy’.

“It is quite weird but I like it, my friends at school are all excited for me, they say we really want to come and see you.

“My parents say they are just really proud of me as well.”

Lauren Jarvis, 16, of Weston Turville, said: “It is amazing, this is the first panto I have done and I am really looking forward to going on stage, I’m nervous but excited.

“It is such a good opportunity and a nice thing to be involved in, and it’s good for the GCSE’s I am taking.

“I have found it interesting learning about the staging and different theatre techniques and how it all comes together.

“I would like to be involved in theatre somehow in the future.”

Jessica Adair, 12, of Chesham, has been involved with various panto shows for three years, but said: “It is really good, but it is not one I had heard of before, I had never heard of Dick Whittington.

“I have learnt so many dance steps it is all fun to do, I have made loads of friends.”

The two teams of juves, each have 12 members and are divided into the blue or red team.

Wendy Jarvis, the head chaperone for the blue team, said: “They have got to keep up with their school work, one of the children has her GSCE mock exams and it’s about working with the schools.

“And as a parent that you know they get the right homework and lessons, and they don’t miss out on this wonderful opportunity.”

Vicky Fox, head chaperone for the red team, said: “They are all doing incredibly well, it is a big commitment for all of them.

“They are all really good friends, really supportive and the older ones help the younger ones.”