Tuesday, 02 November 2021 15:18

Interview with Alice Rose Fletcher, 'Belle' in Beauty & the Beast

Alice Rose Fletcher who is appearing as Belle in Beauty and the Beast at Lighthouse from 9-31 December 2021 Alice Rose Fletcher who is appearing as Belle in Beauty and the Beast at Lighthouse from 9-31 December 2021

Having grown up in Hong Kong it would be easy to excuse Alice Rose Fletcher for not being fully up to speed with the peculiarly British art of pantomime – except there’s no need to because she’s there already and raring to go.

Alice is playing Belle in Beauty and the Beast this Christmas at Lighthouse, Poole’s centre for the arts, and much as she appreciates it's one of the most traditional panto roles, she’s determined to make sure her Belle is a thoroughly 21st century heroine.

 “I like it that Belle has something about her,” she says. “She’s strong and I wanted to play a panto princess with a lot of personality. It’s really fun.”

 Alice is in full Belle costume as we speak – just minutes before she had been in the clutches of the Beast (Wade Lewin) for the first time and throughout the photo session the poses she struck were those of a feisty young woman refusing to be cowed by the Beast’s obvious physical power and ferocious temperament.

 “The cast all got together yesterday so it wasn’t the first time I’d met Wade. He is so outgoing and just lovely, so it feels very easy to work with him. You are thrown together, but over panto you become such a family because you are working so hard, and you become a really tight knit group. I’ve met a lot of really close friends doing pantomime, some of my closest friends.”

 The fun started for Alice from the moment she walked into the audition room with Beauty and the Beast director Chris Jarvis (who’s also playing Dame Betty Bonbon), Musical Director Darren Reeves, Lighthouse Chief Executive Elspeth McBain and Head of Programming Tim Colegate, the lead producer.

 “They were so warm and welcoming, I just felt so at home in the room. I’d had another audition that day which was really cold, so you never know what to expect when you walk into a room, but they were just so lovely, and I thought: ‘I really want to work for these people.’

 “I had a great time. Chris got up and joined in the scene with me, so I had someone to interact with and it was really fun. He directed the scene and then he redirected the scene, so he let me play a bit which shows him more of what I can do. I had a really fun audition.”

 Unlike many actors her age Alice didn’t grow up seeing Chris on CBeebies. She was born in Hastings but lived in Hong Kong with her family from the age of four until she came back at 18 to take up a place at Guildford School of Acting and hasn’t looked back since.

 “Coming into the industry is always hard especially the first few years, but I’m really happy with what I’ve done. I’m lucky in that I worked in the pandemic – I know I’m a lot more fortunate than others as some people lost all their jobs.

 “I even worked last Christmas, briefly – we had an opening night and then next day we closed! But these things happen and I’m glad we managed to do two shows and had some Christmas fun. That show [The Revellers Society] has a new life as a play and we will be performing that next month.”

 Meanwhile, Alice can’t wait to spend Christmas by the sea.

 “I love the sea. In Hong Kong I lived by the sea and when I got off the train in Poole for the first time, I could just smell the sea, so to wake up and see the sea is just beautiful.

 “I have quite young brothers it’s important to be there around them so I think I’ll drive back home to London, or my dad will come and get me on Christmas Eve after the show – he usually does a panto trip for me and the Boxing Day dash back. It’s exhausting, but it’s wonderful to have a good Boxing Day audience to bring you up again. I can’t wait.”

 :: Beauty and the Beast runs from 9 to 21 December 2021.

Tickets at www.lighthousepoole.co.uk