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Hayley Mills, Matthew Kelly and Matthew Rixon on their Christmas traditions

By Lee-Anne Gough

Your advent calendar today reveals the exciting news that Richmond's spectacular Panto, Cinderella has started, oh yes it has! With the doors to the Cinderella ballroom open, make your family's Christmas celebrations complete with a trip to a magical traditional family pantomime. We sat down with our Fairy Godmother, Golden Globe and BAFTA Award- winning Hayley Mills and the Ugly Sisters, dynamic duo Matthew Kelly and his son Matthew Rixon to discuss what Panto means to them and their family.

Hayley Mills

My Dad would have loved this because it's a true Pantomime, it's primarily for the children, but the grown ups who have brought their children to have a wonderful time, they have a great time too. If you have a Pantomime and the children don't get what's going on, it's not a real Pantomime, also because this is the story of Cinderella, it's magical, so you've got the Panto fun and dancing and talent and humour and you've got the magical romantic story so it's a wonderful time and my dress is amazing! A couple of years ago I took my grandchildren to Aladdin, it's absolutely a tradition for my family and I to go to the Panto at Christmas time, it's a marvellous build up to Christmas and after Christmas, it maintains the sense of joy and optimism about the coming year which we all need a great deal, it's really wonderful and I think it's a privilege to be in this wonderful production.

Matthew Kelly & Matthew Rixon

Matthew Kelly
- Panto is a big part of our lives, what's great about it is, you don't have to do anything on Christmas day as we do two shows on Christmas eve, two shows on Boxing day so we're excused all chores so we don't have to peel the sprouts'

Matthew Rixon - No you've been excused all chores, I think the rest of the world is not excused all chores they still have to do all the Christmas shopping and cooking and cleaning'

Matthew Kelly- oh yeah that's right. Well I've loved Panto ever since I was six, when I saw my first panto and I think it's part of the Christmas tradition because it's familiar, it's comforting, it's festive, its spectacular, it makes you feel great, it gives you a continuity in your life I think and it's a thing for all generations, you could take as many as four generations and you wouldn't feel embarrassed and it's something for the whole family to share.

Matthew Rixon - yes and what's nice for us is being part of other people's Christmas has become our Christmas tradition because it is a busy time of year for us when you're in a Panto but it's great we can stand on stage in silly frocks and tell gags and be part of everyone else's Christmas tradition which is great.

Matthew Kelly - and also of course because Christmas day is the one day off in the middle of many shows, there are lots of waifs and strays in the company, who have nowhere to go or can't get back for Christmas and so you very often share your Christmas day with lots of other people that you wouldn't normally do so from that perspective it's quite a good thing as well

Matthew Rixon  - also I grew up watching Dad in Panto and now my kids can come and watch me in Panto, well watch 2 generations of us in Panto

Matthew Kelly  - and there was a year when all 3 generations were in Panto

Matthew Rixon - yes of course, Dad and I were in Panto and my sons were the lost boys all at different theatres!

Matthew Kelly - yes three generations working at the same time! But we all got together on Christmas day

Matthew Rixon  - Halfway through my son Jack said 'wouldn't it be cool Dad, if all three of us could be in a show' so that's the next ambition!

Matthew Kelly - I would absolutely love that!

Matthew Rixon - wouldn't that be great? My kids have seen Panto for many years now and they're a bit older so they're a bit cooler about it but they're always lovely about it, I think they have a good time and of course I don't get to see them as much over the Christmas period because of doing Panto so them coming to see it, is certainly a big deal for me but yes they have a good old time, a laugh and a giggle. Again, it's a big part of their Christmas, as they come and see their Dad and their Grandfather and then we all get to go and have a jolly time after.

Matthew Kelly - I was always in the Panto's when Matt was growing up so he always used to come and watch me in them, it's a joy to be starring with him in Cinderella.

Make your family's Christmas celebrations complete with a trip to a magical, traditional Pantomime adventure. There are still some great Family Ticket rates available, so everyone can join in the fun. Put on your glass slippers, jump in your carriage and book your tickets now!