Singing praises of the Carol at Opera House

Dancers from the production of A Christmas Carol at the Winter Gardens, Laura Wilson and Ashley Luke Lloyd.
Dancers from the production of A Christmas Carol at the Winter Gardens, Laura Wilson and Ashley Luke Lloyd.
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Fylde stage stars are preparing to cast a spell over the Opera House this Christmas.

Ashley Luke Lloyd and Laura Wilson are both back at the Winter Gardens’ theatre, a venue they each grew up performing at and are excited to return to.

Dancers from the production of A Christmas Carol at the Winter Gardens, Laura Wilson and Ashley Luke Lloyd.

Dancers from the production of A Christmas Carol at the Winter Gardens, Laura Wilson and Ashley Luke Lloyd.

They’re in the cast of A Christmas Carol, a new festive production being staged in the resort, with rehearsals getting underway this week.

While Ashley was only on the local stage last summer, as part of the Mamma Mia! cast, Laura’s appearance in the show will be a major homecoming event.

Not only is it several years since Laura’s last local performance, with the touring cast of Grease in 2011, but she’s also moved back to her home town of Fleetwood last year.

“I’d been living in London for 10 years and it was time for a change of scene,” the former Cardinal Allen High School pupil said.

“I heard about the auditions for A Christmas Carol and got my heart set on it, with the chance to be working at home at Christmas; I had to get it.

“You kind of expect not to get the job, when it’s at home and it’s too good to be true. It’s been magical.

“It’s also nice that it’s a musical rather than panto - which I do love - for Christmas.”

Just one day into rehearsals, they’re both excited about the production, which is a new staging of Alan Menken, Lynn Ahrens and Mike Okrent’s show - which ran for 10 years at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Menken is best know as the man behind the music for Disney films Beauty And The Beast and The Little Mermaid, as well as stage musicals Little Shop Of Horrors and Sister Act The Musical.

“On Broadway the show had a cast of about 50, we’ve got 20 here, as well as 22 local children, so we’re going to be very busy,” Ashley said. “We have eight-hour days including weekends, but it’s so much fun - already - you feel like you’re in a fairy tale.

“The music is very Disney-esque, but with some dark bits that are more Phantom Of The Opera, Menken’s brilliant.

“How lucky is the Opera House and the people of Blackpool to have this show coming here?

“And as much as I love the West End, there’s no theatre as epic at Blackpool Opera House.”

Laura’s just as much in love with the venue, where both she and Ashley appeared in Abbadabbadoo as children, with David Copperfield and Lionel Vinyl, as dancing Wombles.

Luckily, with classes at Barbara Jackson School of Dance and Joanna Newson Acting school - as well as professional training at the Italia Conti academy - she’s honed her skills since that performance.

“I remember dancing, in the Wombles suit, thinking I was facing the front of the stage, and was actually facing the back.

“I couldn’t see out properly, but I was only eight and haven’t done it since.”

* A Christmas Carol runs at the Opera House from Friday, December 4 until Sunday, January 3.