The Malta Independent 23 February 2020, Sunday

Royally ridiculous

Tuesday, 4 December 2018, 09:10 Last update: about 2 years ago

With Christmas fast approaching, most of Malta is already buying tickets for the traditionally hilarious festive panto at the Teatru Manoel. As FM Theatre Productions prepares to bring the fairy-tale classic Sleeping Beauty to the stage at Malta’s national theatre, we speak with ANALISE CASSAR about playing two very different roles in this magical production.

Performing just one role in the merry mayhem of a Christmas panto in Malta is considered by many actors to be something of a challenge. Local musical theatre actress and singer Analise Cassar, however, is currently preparing to double the trouble, playing two key roles in FM Theatre's upcoming Christmas panto at the Teatru Manoel, Sleeping Beauty.

"I love that both my characters, Queen Astra and Sybil, are so different," says Analise. "Who wouldn't want to be a Queen for just a little while? It will not be hard to fall in love with the royal presence that comes with Queen Astra, as she is as good as it gets. I love the song I will be singing together with my daughter Princess Aurora [the titular Sleeping Beauty], and I'm thoroughly excited to wear her gorgeous dress."

When Analise has finished playing royalty, however, she must then turn her attention to performing as the Queen's rambunctious sister, Sybil. "Sybil is very different to my real-life personality, so I love the moments where I get to play her. She is a heightened and elaborate panto-version of the character of 'Sybil' in Fawlty Towers - she is loud, over-the-top, presumptuous and very vain. As an actor, it's fun to channel that 'all about me' aura and have fun with it, for a little while."

As she plays the mother and aunt respectively of the Princess Aurora, who as per the classic story is cursed as a baby by the evil fairy Maleficent and falls asleep under her spell many years later, Analise joins a talented cast of local performers in the magical adventure, including panto veteran Edward Mercieca as Dame Nanna Kola.

"Working with FM Theatre is always exciting and fun," says Analise. "It is a warm, family environment, which is awesome to work in. Watching the chorus in rehearsals is exhilarating as they are all extremely disciplined, dedicated, and already advanced in their rehearsal process. The songs are also really great fun this year, and I'm excited to get to the end of this rehearsal process, and see the magic hit the stage!"

Although she maintains a busy stage career thanks to her professional musical theatre training, Analise still considers watching a panto an unmissable Christmas tradition - just like thousands of other theatre-goers in Malta. "Although performing as an actress and singer is my full-time job, I still feel the need to book tickets and watch a Christmas Panto every year, as otherwise it never feels like I've fulfilled my December to-do list. it is a long-standing tradition which I never miss - and this year I certainly won't, as I'll be on stage too!"

FM Theatre Productions proudly presents Sleeping Beauty at the Teatru Manoel, Valletta, with performances at 3pm and 8pm on 23, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30 December and 2, 3, 5 January, at 8pm only on 4 January, and at 3pm only on 6 January. Tickets are priced from €20 and are available from An early bird discount of 10% is available until 30 November.





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