From TV to stage | Taryn Mamo Cefai

Thanks to her roles on TV, actress Taryn Mamo Cefai has become a household name; but she’s now going back to her roots, taking on a role in theatre… And not just any theatre, but Steve Hili’s Adult Panto. Here, Iggy Fenech finds our more about the star 

Taryn Mamo Cefai
Taryn Mamo Cefai

“My mother always said I was born for the stage,” says Taryn Mamo Cefai, who made her debut in the arts at the age of three as a ballerina with the Olivia Dow School of Russian Ballet. Since then, Taryn has become one of Malta’s most recognisable actors, particularly after playing Sarah in Il-Klikka, and the leading lady, Lydia, in Malta’s most-watched TV Series, Strada Stretta. Taryn’s career has also been incredibly diverse, as she’s hosted the opening ceremony for the Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2016 and even played a role in the James Cucciardi-directed film 20,000 Reasons. 

Now, Taryn is transitioning back to theatre and is playing the lead role in this year’s Adult Panto – Little Red Riding Hood. Starring alongside heavyweights like Malcolm Galea, Joe Depasquale and Joseph Zammit, as well as Malta’s burlesque queen Undine LaVerve and magician Gwilym Bugeja, Taryn has been cracking up audiences for the past two weekends.

With one final weekend to go, I caught up with Taryn to find out more about the Adult Panto and her life! 

How did you get involved in the Adult Panto? 

Well, as everyone knows I’m a huge fan of Steve Hili and comedy was quite out of my comfort zone so, when the opportunity came along, I decided to push myself and just go for it. Little did I know what I was singing up for, though…

Little Red Riding Hood is a story we all know and cherish, and you’ll be playing the lead role… but this is the Adult Panto version… what’s Little Red Riding Hood like in Steve Hili’s mind?

Well, I don’t want to reveal any secrets but looking at the cast, I think it’s pretty clear that this is not your typical Little Red Riding Hood story!

What were rehearsals like? 

Mad. Just pure madness. Every rehearsal left me in fits. I still laugh at some of the political satire and pick up lines, I just can’t help it. And I pray every day I’ll keep a straight face when I go on stage. Nevertheless, I’m really enjoying every part of working with this talented bunch of people.

Can you give us some inside information about what audiences will get to hear, see and experience at the show?

Get ready for a show that will trigger all your senses: this Panto is a stress reliever on so many levels! This show is the epitome of political satire, so with all the recent election tension and scandals, you’re in for a treat. If you want to know more, you’re just going to have to come and watch it.

You act on both TV and the stage. Is it hard to transition from one to the other? And which one’s your favourite?

I think one of the greatest skills of a good actor is the ability to switch on and off instantly. Playing a role both on stage and television means you embody their life, their feelings, their motifs – you become someone else, someone who might be completely different to yourself. But when the curtain comes down or the camera goes off, I’m back to being just plain, old me – usually very hungry and in need of a good sleep. 

I think both TV and stage have their own highlights. When the theatre curtain is raised and the lights hit you, there’s an adrenaline rush which takes over… that feeling of excitement and fear is indescribable. On the other hand, on television, we are not just a program but people in the viewer’s living room – they relate to us, they feel our pain and, when they meet us in the street, they feel like they really know us. We become part of their routine.

Out of the spotlight, what’s a typical day for Taryn like?

Well, my days are always jam-packed and whether in the spotlight or not, I’m always on the go, running from work to shoots to appearances. But my happy place is some well spent time with my family. I’ve always had the most supportive parents and they’re definitely the backbone of everything I do. Sometimes I feel like I’m living a dream and I owe it all to their continuous encouragement and belief in me. This industry comes with some definite lows and it’s reassuring to know that someone’s always got your back.

Of course, another big part of my day is my other half, Sean. From the rants to the driving around, and helping me with photos and outfits, I’m so lucky to have such a supportive man in my life who, being an outsider to this industry, still understands all the stress and madness of it all. My schedule is quite demanding but he makes it seem easy and I feel so grateful that I can go home and unwind with a nice glass of wine, a home cooked meal (yes, he cooks!) and our designated series for the month.

What’s in the pipeline after the Adult Panto? 

I definitely want to go back to my roots and focus more on theatrical ventures. Having said that, the television bug has hit hard so I might be learning the juggling game better this season. I guess you’ll have to wait and see…

This year’s Adult Panto in summer – Little Red Riding Hood is being produced by Ants in Pants and will be held at Spazju Kreattiv, St James Cavalier. The last three shows are taking place on June 23, 24 and 25. Tickets are available online from or can be booked by calling 2122 3200

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