INTERVIEW: Suffolk theatre star Louise realises panto dream

Jack & the Beanstalk at The Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds - picture by Keith Mindham Photography ANL-150712-123627001
Jack & the Beanstalk at The Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds - picture by Keith Mindham Photography ANL-150712-123627001

A Suffolk performer has realised her ‘dream’ after returning to the Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds as a lead in its dazzling pantomime.

Louise Olley, of Battisford, is wowing audiences young and old as the karate chopping Jill in the colourful Jack & the Beanstalk.

It fulfils a long held ambition which flourished like the eponymous beanstalk after she performed in the junior chorus aged 14 in the Theatre Royal’s Beauty & The Beast.

The 26-year-old remembers: “I had a moment when I was younger sat in the green room with all of the older actors and thought ‘one day I want to do this’.

“It’s a massive dream of mine and I really feel honoured to do it.”

As her first panto as a professional, what has stood out for Louise are the varied audience reactions.

She says: “Because every audience is different, every show is different. The audience are completely integral to what happens on the stage. What the kids find funny is completely different to what the adults find funny.”

Growing up in Hitcham, Louise developed a taste for the bright lights of performing aged seven with her first solo in a play at Bildeston Primary School - The Crickmoores of Bildeston.

She then pursued amateur dramatics in the Hadleigh and Ipswich area before taking on her studies in drama and musical theatre.

Her professional horizons dawned as she set sail aboard a P&O cruise ship as part of a theatre company for nine months.

“It was amazing - I loved every second of that and it was a great chance to explore the world and get paid while performing,” Louise says.

When she returned home, her feet had barely touched dry land when she won the part of Sue in the touring musical Dreamboats and Petticoats for six months.

During a three week break she was asked by leading theatre producer Bill Kenwright to continue her role in the show’s sequel Dreamboats and Miniskirts.

She later auditioned for the Theatre Royal’s panto and was thrilled to be able to tick off a career ambition from her list.

Asked about the enduring popularity of panto, Louise says: “Everyone knows what to expect and they get what they’re expecting.

“It’s perfect for adults and children - it ticks all the boxes really.”

When Jack & the Beanstalk finishes its run on Sunday, Januray 10, Louise plans to take a much needed holiday and return to auditioning to no doubt fulfil more career goals and ambitions.

To book tickets call the box office on 01284 769505 or visit www.theatreroyal.org