Feature by Laura Bambrey
A couple of weeks ago, I was lucky enough to attend A Fairy Tale For Christmas – Behind the Scenes. This fabulous event gave the audience an opportunity to enjoy Chrissie Manby in conversation with members of the TOADS (Torbay Operatic Amateur Dramatic Society) at the Little Theatre in Torquay.
TOADS provided Chrissie with her inspiration for the NEWTS am–dram group in the book – and she spent time with them, researching her characters and all the peculiar ins and outs of the theatrical social scene. This event was a hilarious catch up between the author and her motley crew of muses.
To begin with, we were treated to an interview between Chrissie and Ben Tisdall (of TOADS fame… it’s worth noting that Ben Teesdale plays a rather important part in the book!!) Chrissie was generous in sharing details about her process, how she made her start as an author, and the gritty reality of being a full-time author.
Then the rest of the actors arrived on stage, and it was one side-splitting anecdote after another - and you could instantly see what a rich seam of characters, plot points and weird theatre traditions this madcap group of luvvies had introduced the author to.
Huge thanks to Chrissie Manby for sharing her wisdom so generously – and to Ben Tisdall and the rest of the TOADS crew for a warm welcome and an evening of fun. A big shout-out to some names of note in the crowd that night- Lisa Dickinson, Belinda Jones and Holly Martin- it was lovely to catch up with you all!
I couldn’t wait to get started on my lovely signed copy when I got home – and this book doesn’t disappoint. I cheered and booed, and got swept away in the magic of back-stage at panto-time. The best part was identifying some of the actors I’d seen at the event with the characters in the book – it just added a whole new level of fun to what is a brilliant, festive read.