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Joe Pasquale leads cast of Christmas cracker raising money for NHS

Joe Pasquale leads cast of world’s first-ever Film-O-Mime The Gift. Panto for many is a festive must, shouting it’s behind you and laughing at cheesy jokes. Sadly though due to covid many Pantomimes have been cancelled meaning for most attending the festive show will not be possible and this comes after a year when people could do with a good laugh.

The GiftHowever, do not fear as The Gift is here! The Gift is an original musical comedy for all the family, mixing the traditions of pantomime with a modern twist. Think Dick Wittington as a chatty Uber Driver, Captain Hook as a compulsive cheater who loves a game of cards, Prince not so charming looking for love on a dating game show, Smee the head of a dance crew and give a star turn to the back end of the horse who is a disillusioned actor and you kind of get the idea. We wanted to bring a sense of fun and make a mash-up of traditional pantomime characters and stories. Something that keeps the panto traditions alive but speaks to a wider and more modern audience.

Playwright Michael Head like many in the industry has had an awful year. Head had four stage shows cancelled, his feature film Time has been postponed until early next year and finally, his large scale pantomime was called off. ‘It was a very worrying time and losing our pantomime which was booked for a 2k seater in Islington was called off and I really started to panic, I needed to do something to ensure I could keep a roof above my Children’s heads. I spoke with producer Jason Samuels and multi-award-winning director Adam Morley regarding a potential feature film project with Kensington Library. They agreed it was a good idea which gave me just a week to write the film and three weeks prep to produce a feature film musical.

Despite being filmed in just 12 days on a micro-budget the film has signed a professional album deal with a well-known music publisher and was due for a nationwide cinematic release and Leicester Square Premier. Sadly due to covid the cinematic release and premier was not to be but it has been amazing to see so many people get behind the project and consider the final film worthy of such things. The feedback has been amazing. We have had so many messages from parents saying how their children loved it to a couple in their 70’s saying they haven’t laughed that much in years which has been fantastic to hear, we have also had a number of five-star reviews from professional film critiques which is amazing. When you work hard to make something happen and take on something like this it can be daunting explained the writer Michael Head, but when you hear such great feedback and how it has brought joy, especially at this time of year it makes everything worthwhile.

The Gift is available on Amazon and Amazon Prime. https://www.amazon.co.uk/

With money raised going towards the NHS charities together. We wanted to create something that would bring families together this Christmas, make people of all ages smile and laugh and be able to raise money for such a worthy cause makes it all the more special. We are also in advanced talks to make sure the film goes out to a number of hospitals so patients can see the film free of charge over the festive period. A west end premier would of been amazing but to see the film go out in hospitals such as Great Ormond Street so the patients can see the film for free is even more special and for us what Christmas should be about.

Cast Includes
Joe Pasquale – Buttons
Vas Blackwood – Abanaza
Caprice Bourret – The Good Fairy
Vanessa Feltz – The Fairy Godmother
Chesney Hawkes – Dad
Myra Dubois- Ugly Sister
Dane Bowers – Prince Not So Charming
Tina Malone – Sandra
Abz Love – Sleepy
Ben Ofoedu- Genie
Lucy Beresford- The Evil Queen
Paul Danan – Washy
Sandi Bogle- Red Riding Hood
Rhia Official- Tink’a’bell
and award-winning NHS doctor Parvinder Shergill

With the industry being in such a bad way the team also thought it was important to give young talent a chance and we are proud that alongside the profile names The Gift gives professional debuts to over 30 performers including recent grads from the countries top performing arts schools.

Young people are finding it harder than ever so we wanted to showcase the talent that is out there and give people there first professional jobs. Another thing that was important for the casting of The Gift was diversity. There has been a lot of negative press around the pantomimes this year and the nature of the casting, with current circumstances and with the BLM moment we felt it was as important as ever to represent actors of BAME ethnicity and to show pantomimes are not just for middle-class white people.

With Christmas spirit being at an all-time low due to covid and lockdown, with so many pantomimes cancelled we really hope people will get behind The Gift, help us raise as much money as possible for the NHS and help with future projects. Our aim is to make at least ten films in this series raising money for the NHS, giving young and underrepresented actors a chance and bringing joy to the audiences over the holidays and with London now in tier three and theatres being forced to close their doors we hope The Gift will be able to keep the pantomime magic alive.


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