Panto season is almost upon us and it’s been non-stop rehearsals for the cast of Sleeping Beauty at the Kenneth More Theatre, in preparation for the opening this Saturday! The show runs into the new year until 12 January and includes a star-studded cast including Kerry Katona and Bobby Crush. Amongst the cast is local actor Darren Hart, who plays Prince Percy.
Darren is a local artist who has been working in theatre for over ten years. He studied at St. Bonaventure’s School in Forest Gate and was a member of the Youth Theatre at Stratford East from age 14, landing his first professional role at age 18. He is very active in the local community, regularly working on bringing shows to community centres and local theatre.
On his upcoming performance at the Kenneth More Theatre, Darren said “My first job was in a jewellery shop in Ilford, so this is my coming home performance.” Reflecting on the importance of local theatre, he told us “being local and in the arts has made me really value what it can do for a community. The arts gave me a space to learn about myself, build friendships in my teen years and help me become a performer.” Looking back as an adult, he is “so thankful that [his] community had a buzzing performing arts scene that unfortunately isn’t as big now as it was before.”
Since his start in acting, Darren has been a part of several projects both on stage and screen. “I have been lucky to work with a number of people that have influenced me. Working with David Harewood was a massive moment for me and I learned so much from just watching him every day.” The British actor currently starring in the US series Supergirl worked alongside Darren in His Dark Materials at the National Theatre in 2004.
While Darren loves working in television “for the gift of another take,” he also loves “the stage for the buzz of doing things live.” Combining the two and doing “live TV,” he said, “would be the dream.”
Darren loves working on stage as anything can happen! “People fall off stages, have lost wigs, forgotten lines and enter into scenes that they are not in.” One of his strongest memories, however, was when he was working at the National Theatre in Henry IV. “There was a massive scene change that required all the cast to move different bits of furniture off stage to create a forest. We were wrapped up in a game of cards in the dressing room and then we heard the scene change music start. There was no way we would all make it so the audience had to watch a forest scene that was filled with pub furniture in it. We never missed it again!”
Sleeping Beauty will be Darren’s first time playing royalty. “I am excited about playing the prince as it’s my first time doing it. I normally play the side kick so I am loving the challenge of wearing the crown!”
Audiences can look forward to a fun packed show. “The cast is amazing and we can’t wait to hear you all out there cheering, booing and laughing (fingers crossed!)” When asked how he prepares for live performances, Darren said he picks a song for his character and listens to it before going on stage. He said, “I haven’t decided on the prince’s song yet but it could be something by Prince!”
The actor is especially excited to work in Redbridge and would love to do more projects in the borough. “Redbridge I am here, let’s make magic!” Working in the borough close to home reminds him of his roots, “I will always try my best to use my skills back in my community.”
When asked about any future projects, Darren said “you will see my face in Enterprice, a BBC sitcom in the new year, as well as working on a few other things.” On what his dream role would be, he said he would love to play “Denzel Washington’s son in anything!”
Darren loves his job but recognises that it is a very tough industry to get into, so his advice to any young budding actors out there is to “do it because you love it.” He continues, “not for fame or money but for love first, and then if you get the others it’s all a bonus.” Darren believes that “every time you use your skills should be a happy day.”
Catch Darren Hart playing Prince Percy in Sleeping Beauty at the Kenneth More Theatre from 14 December-12 January.
Book your tickets now www.visionrcl.org.uk/kmt
Post Author: Nida Hussain