Slipper fits for student picked as Cinders
A PROMISING Swindon actress has landed her first professional lead role in a star-studded pantomime, at the tender age of 17.
Alice Baker, still a second-year student of musical theatre at the Performance Preparation Academy in Guildford, will take to the stage as Cinderella on December 6 at the town’s Yvonne Arnaud Theatre.
Alice, who attended Lethbridge Primary School and the Common-weal School in Swindon, saw off an array of professional talent to secure the role.
Rivals included Emilie Fleming, who finished eighth in BBC One’s Over the Rainbow talent show to find a Dorothy for the West End revival of The Wizard of Oz.
Rehearsals for the pantomime start on November 18, when Alice, whose parents live in Croft Road, will begin working opposite television and stage star Bonnie Langford, who will play the show’s Fairy Godmother.
Just one day after her June audition, Alice was called into an office with PPA’s principals, a selection of teachers and the panto’s director, Gerry Tebbutt.
“Gerry said, ‘Is panto something you would like to do over Christmas?’ and I, of course, said yes,” Alice said.
“My first reaction was to scream and give him a massive hug, before the realisation of what I would be doing sank in.
“I went and rang my mum, who was thrilled and may have shed a few tears.
“Panto is such a lovely thing and I have done so many amateur productions in Swindon. It’s nice to be going back to panto.”
Alice was deemed a better fit for the role than 10 of her peers from PPA – six of whom are a year ahead of her in their training – as well as external graduates from other acting schools.
Too modest to sing her own praises, Alice did say the teachers and industry professionals she had spoken to had said it was rare for such a young student to be given the title role in a major Christmas pantomime.
“This is my first professional role and it’s only my second year of training.
“To even have the opportunity to audition in what was my first year is hard to put into words,” she said.
Alice must raise her game to act alongside Bonnie, best known for roles in Doctor Who, Cats and Chicago, and impress the 600 spectators packing into the Surrey theatre come December, though the apprentice is keen to learn from the legend.
“It is very exciting to be acting alongside Bonnie. It is very special for me to be working with someone so established and great for me to take something from her experience,” said Alice, who first performed in public at the age of four, with Swindon’s Estelle School of Dance.
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