‘I may be naughty sometimes, but I’m certainly not wicked’ | Isabel Warrington

This year, the MADC panto will have its own wicked witch, as Isabel Warrington takes on the iconic role from The Wizard of Oz, with added Christmas glitz while playing against Alan Montanaro’s perennial Dame. We asked her: what kind of brand of wickedness are we to expect?

It’s not easy being green: Isabel Warrington’s Wicked Witch hits the MFCC stage next Saturday in MADC’s panto.
It’s not easy being green: Isabel Warrington’s Wicked Witch hits the MFCC stage next Saturday in MADC’s panto.


What is wicked?

I am going to describe my version of wicked in its original context, not its more recent connotations. I define wickedness as the intent to consciously harm somebody for one's own satisfaction. Thankfully, I do not consider myself to be wicked. I may be naughty sometimes, but certainly not wicked. So let's get one thing straight: my acting in panto is not method acting - I do not channel any kind of subconscious wickedness to the part! It is all tongue in cheek and over-the-top acting. It is a caricature of a personality, not an accurate interpretation of anyone in particular.   

What particular energy does an actor need, do you think, in order to play a panto baddie? Is it more daunting than liberating?

Every character requires energy because you are consciously recreating a personality that is not entirely your own. That requires thought, effort and creativity, which all require lots of energy. My panto baddies are usually quite energetic, partly because of the fact that there is lots of screaming and I ham up my acting for this particular role. I like to give my baddies my own style while still keeping the traditional elements. The part is lots of fun because it is all fantasy - the character has magic powers and is usually some kind of human mutation. Besides, there is the singing and dancing which I really enjoy. And of course, screaming at the top of my voice is always a great way to let off steam!

The Wizard of Oz is hardly a conventional choice for a panto (it's a comparatively recent work, for a start...), how did the team go about fitting it into a panto tradition?

The original story is a fairy tale like any other therefore it was a good piece to adapt for panto. The script writer, Alan Montanaro, is experienced and  has a good vision when it comes to staging a show. Above all, he is an entertainer and therefore knows what the audience like and want, and writes with that in mind. The rest of the team have been carefully selected to ensure that the show is slick, well-paced and highly entertaining.

What is the vibe among the panto cast been like for the most part? Are the Dame and the baddie actually getting along backstage...?

The vibe is a very positive one throughout the cast. Most of the chorus members are newcomers to MADC, but they are a great bunch who have worked very hard to be up to scratch. Thankfully, there is no rivalry, or at least, none that I have come across and the team have all been very supportive of each other. There have been times when the directors, choreographer and music coach have wanted to throttle us because of the incessant chatting during rehearsals, however it looks like that stage is over and we are all very excited about seeing the show finally come together. Alan and I have a brilliant chemistry both on and off stage.

Judging by the photos, it looks like it's a lot of work, transforming you into a witch. How uncomfortable is the make-up? Or is it just all more fun than all that...?

Yes, there is a lot of effort put into the make up and costume, however it makes getting into character all the more fun. I am quite a perfectionist, therefore I want as much effort put into making my costume as I put into the character. I usually do my own make up in panto because it helps me relax and psyche myself up before the show. Yes, it can be pretty uncomfortable, but as they say, no pain, no gain!

The MADC panto will be playing at the MFCC, Ta' Qali from December 22 to January 6. Tickets are at €10, €17, €22 and €25. Children 12 years and under get €5 euro discount (discount not available on €10 ticket). Bookings: 79 796232 or online