Harrogate actress joins stars in big York panto for lead role

A talented young actress from the Harrogate district is set to take the lead role in York’s star-studded panto production.

Friday, 6th December 2019, 11:50 am
Updated Friday, 6th December 2019, 11:51 am
Talented Harrogate actress Louise Henry who stars in this year's panto at York. (Picture: David Harrison)

Louise Henry will be familiar to local coffee fans at Hoxton North café bar in Royal Parade in Harrogate where she works when not rehearsing but some may not know of her terrific success as an actress.

Louise, 22, from Knaresborough, will take centre stage from next week alongside star names in the Three Bears Productions of Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs at the Grand Opera House.

After playing Liesl von Trapp in York Stage Musicals’ The Sound Of Music at the Cumberland Street theatre, she is now starring as Princess Snow White from December 13 to January 4, 2020, alongside Mark Little’s villainous Lord Chamberlain, regular dame Steve Wickenden’s Nurse Brexit, ’Allo, ’Allo! star Vicki Michelle’s Wicked Queen and Martin Daniels’ Muddles.

Louise was among 30 invited from the many applicants for a day’s auditions in May during panto’s producer Chris Moreno’s search for a local principal girl in Three Bears’ fourth Opera House panto.

After queueing in the rain in the line of Snow White hopefuls that formed along the stage door wall, she won through to the shortlist of 12 for the afternoon’s second session and was then picked after a nervous wait.

Louise said: “The auditions were on the Wednesday, and they rang me just as I was setting off to work on the Friday afternoon. I’d been refreshing my emails, hoping for news, and it was such a euphoric moment when the phone call came.”

The success of this young fast rising actress is remarkable bearing in mind she did not even go to drama school.

She said: “I’ve had acting and singing lessons for as long as I can remember and I’ve done lots of theatre work, like school plays when I was at King James’s School in Knaresborough

“From the age of nine to 17, I went to the ACTAcademy in Harrogate, run by Kelly Creates, when we took part in the Harrogate Festival of Speech and Drama and did The Big T talent show at Harrogate Theatre.”

Since The Sound Of Music, Louise has appeared in two more York shows, the first being another Nik Briggs production, Joseph McNeice and Matthew Spalding’s new musical comedy, Twilight Robbery, at 41 Monkgate in May.

“I played Jane, the daughter, who’s 40 years old, so I went from one extreme, 16-year-old Liesl, to another…and now I’ll be playing Snow White!”

The nearest she has come to playing her own age was her most recent role, a young Australian woman, Gabrielle York, in Rigmarole Theatre Company’s debut production, Andrew Bovell’s apocalyptic family drama When The Rain Stops Falling, at 41 Monkgate in November.

Now her focus turns to her professional bow, billed as “York’s very own Louise Henry” in Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs.

“I’ve done one panto before, Aladdin, an amateur one for the Pannal Players when I was maybe 14,” says Louise,

Looking forward to starting rehearsals on Monday, she says: “This opportunity is what I’ve been waiting for, and I’ve just got to have faith in my abilities.

“Snow White is on stage for most of the time, so I’ll always need to react in the moment, and that’s something that will add to my repertoire of skills, which I’m always working on.”

Imagine how Louise feels as the first night approaches, knowing she is taking on the title role in a star-laden show. “I know! It’s my show! How crazy is that!” she says. “When I rang my sister to tell her I’d got the part, she didn’t believe it…and when I rang my mum, I had to say, ‘no, I’m not kidding’. That was a really fantastic day!”

Louise Henry stars in Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs, Grand Opera House, York, from December 13 to January 4 2020. Box office: 0844 871 3024 or at atgtickets.com/york.