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The Elf Who Was Scared of Christmas by Gina Beck and Neil McDermott

West End star Gina Beck has done many things since March to try to make money: teaching, transcribing, making gifts, delivering flowers… then she and her friend, West End star Neil McDermott, dreamt of creating a show to put on in a village hall which is now a full-blown pro production in London!

Gina is one of the 3 million freelancers and self-employed excluded from any Government support.

The Elf Who Was Scared of ChristmasGina’s West End leading roles include: Miss Honey in ‘Matilda The Musical’, Magnolia Hawks in ‘Show Boat’, Glinda in ‘Wicked’, Christine Daaé in ‘The Phantom Of The Opera’ and Cosette in ‘Les Misérables’.

Neil is best known for playing Ryan Malloy in ‘EastEnders’. His West End leading roles include: Philip Stuckey in ‘Pretty Woman’ when lockdown happened, Evil Lord Hector in ‘Eugenius the Musical’, Lord Farquaad in ‘Shrek The Musical’, Chief Weasel in ‘The Wind In The Willows’ and Captain Von Trapp in ‘The Sound Of Music’.

Neil and Gina met over 20 years ago performing with the National Youth Music Theatre. Unbelievably, their career paths haven’t crossed since! They now live in the same village with their families and decided to come together during these unprecedented times to create an original theatre show for young people that could be performed under the current restrictions.

With two children each, they really wanted to make something for small people and their families to ensure that Christmas this year is as magical as ever.

Read our Q&A with Gina and Neil

Q: How have you survived in 2020?
Gina and Neil: Well, It’s not been easy. Our industry has obviously been hit really hard as it relies on large numbers of people to come together to enjoy live entertainment. We were both employed at the time doing what we love with Neil performing in Pretty Woman at The Piccadilly Theatre and Gina, having just finished Matilda, was about to go down to Chichester Festival Theatre to do South Pacific. But with the restrictions and lockdowns, we both found ourselves suddenly out of work. We actors are used to being out of work, but the lack of hope to return to work has been extremely tough. We’ve both done 101 random jobs during this time to try to bring money into our households from teaching over zoom, to accent coaching, to arts and craft-making and shifts working in warehouses. It got to to the point where we had to accept that theatre wasn’t returning anytime soon so we decided to get our creative juices flowing culminating in this original story – The Elf Who Was Scared Of Christmas.

Q: Can you tell us about the idea and the development of The Elf Who Was Scared Of Christmas?
Gina and Neil: We have known each other for over 20 years having performed together as kids in the National Youth Music Theatre many moons ago. We now live in the same village and met up to discuss and brainstorm ideas to remain creative in our village coffee shop. The original thought was to put on a Christmas Concert in our village hall for our local community. However, we very quickly realised we wanted to do something more. The idea of a kids show was born, inspired by a story from one of the students at Neil’s youth theatre who was scared of Christmas, The Elf Who Was Scared Of Christmas is a story of an Elf, Cupcake, who is scared of the day Christmas Eve arrives and she has to deliver presents for the children, and another Elf, Figgy, who uses his Christmassy ways to help her overcome her fears.

Q: What difficulties have you had to overcome in terms of putting the show on?
Gina and Neil: It’s been eye-opening creating a show from scratch and taking on all the jobs we take for granted, sourcing props, finding the right sound effects and underscore, buying costumes… agonising about every single technical aspect… and trying our hand at writing an original song too. We also had to make our very own EPK and Show poster. Big shout out to everyone at The Charing Cross Theatre, To Al Bourne Productions for our EPK, Alex Jackson Creative for our show poster, Steven Luke Walker for help on our song and Michelle Edwards for helping us with the movement in our show, and not forgetting, of course, our brave and fantastic producer Danielle Tarento. We feel very proud that not only have we created an opportunity for oursELVES to perform, but also that we have created work and opportunity for other freelancers in our industry.

Q: What is at the heart of the show?
Gina and Neil: This is essentially a really Christmassy show aimed at getting families into the Christmas spirit in the lead up to the big day. It is also a story about anxiety and how to cope with anxiety and how to overcome your fears. It is no surprise that anxiety is on the rise in these times with restrictions and lockdowns, particularly in children. We must remember that for a 3-year-old, this year will have been a third of their life. We hope our show will be a really enjoyable Christmassy experience for families and their children and also an insight for children into what anxiety is and ways of coping with it.

Q: Who should watch The Elf Who Was Scared Of Christmas?
Gina and Neil: This show is for children of ALL ages, big or small, who are looking for some fun this Christmas at the theatre in a Covid safe environment. If you’ve missed live entertainment and storytelling do come and join the Elves for a jam-packed Christmas extravaganza ending in a Christmas concert, of course!!

Danielle Tarento presents
‘The Elf Who Was Scared of Christmas’

Charing Cross Theatre
The Arches Villiers Street
Box office: 08444 930650

Tuesday 8th – Wednesday 23rd December 2020
Running time: 1 hour (approx)
Tickets: Adults £25, children £15
Suitable for children of all ages





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