Hello dear reader, if you’re a fan of Sir Ian McKellen, John Bishop, Anna-Jane Casey and hilarious pantos, then listen up! We’ve got a pair of tickets up for grabs for the opening night of Mother Goose on Wednesday, March 22 at 7:30pm in the Bord Gais Energy Theatre. Stay tuned to the end of this piece to find out how you can enter.
Ahead of the highly anticipated arrival of Mother Goose, we caught up with Anna-Jane Casey, who plays Cilla Quack in the fabulous production. The West End star has portrayed some of the most beloved musical theatre roles throughout the course of her career. With roles such as Velma Kelly in Chicago and Fraulein Kost in Cabaret, she is truly a talent to behold.
Anna-Jane told us all about how the role came about, her favourite part about her character and her love for Dublin! So without further ado, let’s get into it, shall we?
How did the role of Cilla Quack come about?
Well, this is a weird one. I had just finished playing Fraulein Kost, a good strong Nazi in the show Cabaret with the fantastic Eddie Redmayne and Ireland’s own Jessie Buckley. I’d literally just put my feet up, and then, three weeks later, I got a phone call from the same producers of Cabaret saying: “we’re producing Mother Goose“. And I was like “yeah, that’s very nice” and then they said, “Mel Giedroyc, (as in Mel and Sue from The Great British Bake Off) has had to pull out of the show… Will you come and play Cilla Quack, the goose who lays the golden egg?” So I said, “Oh, I’m not sure…” and then they said “Well it’s with Sir Ian McKellen” and I said, “I’ll be there on Monday!”
I was about to be a lady of leisure and now here I am, jumping into splits and laying golden eggs.
Do you have a favourite scene in the show?
I get a lot of time to watch the show at the side of the stage, which is heavenly. I mean, it’s the classic things that panto has, you know, there’s a ghost scene and there’s a cooking scene, but the cooking scene for me is hilarious to watch.
So you have Sir Ian McKellen, the lovely John Bishop and then a brilliant actor called Oscar Conlon Morley playing Jack, their stupid son, and to watch the three lads running around on that stage dropping things, throwing eggs at each other and running around is hilarious.
Every night it’s slightly different and all three of them are at the top of their game. My favourite scene to be in is just after the cooking scene when I start to lay the golden egg and then we do a big tap dance number and Sir Ian McKellen (aged 83!) stands in the middle and tap dances like Michael Flatley on acid… It’s amazing!
Get ready for take off…#MotherGooseShow is flying into a city near you!
— Mother Goose (@MotherGooseShow) February 3, 2023
You’ve played some really iconic roles over the course of your career, how does this one compare to all of the others?
It’s funny because when I first met Ian, and I had met him before, very briefly through a friend of mine, but when it had been announced that I was taking over for Mel, it was during one of the Cabaret gala nights for the new cast coming in after Jessie and Eddie. We were all going to that and Ian was also there so we had a cheeky cigarette together outside of the theatre.
I said to him, “this is going to be hilarious, it’s a panto!” And he took my hand and said, “No. Panto and comedy are the most serious of any of the genres of acting” and then he said, “You have to concentrate so hard, as much as it looks from an audience point of view like we’re just being silly and flopping around, to get the timing right and make it brilliant for the audience, there’s a real formula to it”.
So this role does compare. I’m not praising the Nazi Party in this one like I was in Cabaret, but there’s still the same seriousness and there’s still the same intention when it comes to any of your scenes, any of your songs and any of your lines.
Even though you might be wearing a 10-kilogram goose outfit, or from Ian’s point of view, he’s dressed up in curlers in his hair and a big fake bra; you still have to be as concentrated on that as you would if you were playing Macbeth or Fraulein Kost.
So it differs in the way that the audience is rolling around laughing, but it’s still the same amount of concentration and intent. You have to have truth with it. I’ve never been so truthful as a goose!
Is this your first time doing panto?
It’s my second time. The first time I played Aladdin in Aladdin.
This one is very different because I’m literally playing an animal so you have to kind of get the physicality right. As much as I’m a human being in an animal costume (if you will), you have to get the physicality of being a goose. This is going to make you laugh – I did do a couple of weeks of studying goose noises… I’ve taken this very seriously!
Did you learn any new facts about geese as you were researching?
As we know, they’re quite violent! Geese can apparently be very, very protective.
They’re the best guard dogs. You really don’t want a Rottweiler. Instead, you should have a couple of geese in your back garden. They would keep the robins away.
My character Cilla, she’s quite feisty. I’m playing a feisty little goose so I’m ready to fight my corner.
Have you been to Dublin before, and do you have any plans for your trip?
I’ve been to Dublin a lot. I love it. I performed in Calendar Girls there in 2018. I’ve been there a couple of times before and I regularly sing over at your fantastic concert hall with the RTÉ Orchestra and with the National Symphony Orchestra. I love Dublin, it’s one of my favourite cities to be in.
I like taking the DART train out to Dalkey and then doing the coastal walk. I’m getting a big group of us together and we’re all going to do that one day.
The management must be crackers because they put us in a whole apartment complex together. So there’s going to be about 40 of the Mother Goose company and the cast and crew all in the same apartment block. I dread to think who’s going to be the neighbours because they’re going to be very harassed by us whilst having a full roast dinner. We’re all going to roast something in our ovens… Hopefully, not a goose…
— Jenna (@theFFM_) February 16, 2023
Is that your favourite part about touring?
It is! We’re a really good little family. There are only 14 of us in the Mother Goose cast. Everyone is very supportive. There’s a WhatsApp group, and we say, “What are you bringing? What are you doing?” It’s been a really warm time with some wonderful people on this job. I’m very much appreciative of what I’m doing at the moment.
Thank you so much for your time Anna-Jane! It was such a pleasure to chat with you. Now, who would like to be in with the chance of winning a pair of tickets for opening night? All you need to do is answer the following question:
What date is the opening night of Mother Goose in the Bord Gais Energy Theatre?
The competition closes on Monday, March 20. Winners will be contacted directly and shared on social media.
By submitting this form, you give GCN consent to process your personal information for the purposes of conducting this competition. More information on how we protect your privacy can be found here
This competition is now closed, please visit our Competitions page for more.
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