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Feet-uring... Ella Hughes and Shane Harper

Hello my frosty friends!

I don't know if you've heard, but we're producing a little old winter show in partnership with The Dukes and supported by Arts Council England...

(It's The Snow Queen, jeez, where have you been?)

But before our snowy, shadowy, Christmas offering gets underway, we'd like to introduce you to the tree-mendous cast and crew that made it all possible, addressing hard-hitting questions such as 'what's your favourite Christmas song?' and 'how do you like your eggs in the morning?' Real gritty stuff.

First up, we have Ella Hughes and Shane Harper. Take it away guys!

Who are you - tell us a bit about yourself!

Ella: I'm Ella, and I'm a third-year history student. Next year I'm planning on doing my PGCE so I can become a teacher. I'm originally from Sheffield but I got to university in Lancaster and now that I'm here I never want to leave! The Snow Queen has been my first professional acting job and I've very much enjoyed telling people that 'I'm an actor now'.

Shane: My name is Shane Harper and I have been a professional actor and voice actor for the previous three years! Apart from the Snow Queen, I have delved into some weird and wonderful roles such as lovesick Romeo in Romeo and Juliet, devious Dorian in The Picture of Dorian Gray, and Thénardier in Les Misérables.

Who do you play in 3LF's The Snow Queen and how would you describe your role(s)?

Ella: I play Gerda, a fierce twelve-year-old girl with a big heart on a quest to find her best friend Kai. She's not afraid to tell people what she thinks, but she's also willing to forgive and forget. She's sort of a smarter version of Alice in Wonderland and a little bit like Lyra from His Dark Materials. I also play an extremely untrustworthy Daffodil and one of the mystical Forget-Me-Nots.

Shane: I play The Devil, a cold and unfeeling creature intent on ruining everyone's day, Odlef the Sledder, a happy-go-lucky boy just excited to be included with his friends' fun! Prince Anders, the aristocratic fool who sees himself as beyond everything and everyone, and finally - Sneaky Robber Youth, a hardened, violent, chap with a heart that slowly softens with time.

What's the reason you got involved with theatre?

Ella: When I was in Year 5, I was in a talent show on our school trip to Whitby. I performed Roald Dahl's Red Riding Hood and the Wolf (complete with a little red cloak made by my Granny and a little water-pistol to fire at the audience). I remember being so nervous – I was the last person to perform and I hated waiting until the end. It was my first time ever performing in front of a group of people and after I had done it once, I knew that this was something I wanted to do again.

What advice do you have for people who are thinking of acting?

Shane: The cliché saying 'never give up' is by far the best example of advice that works every time. You do not have to be drama school trained to get into this industry, of course, training is exceptionally helpful, but if you work hard and put your mark out there, then anything is possible. Life is too short to think what if, so DO NOW instead.

What is your favourite show that you have seen?

Ella: My favourite show is probably 946 by Kneehigh. It's based on Adolphus Tips which was one of my favourite stories as a child. My family and I sort of accidentally found out about Kneehigh when we were on holiday in Cornwall and we were confused about why there was a massive tent called 'The Asylum'. We decided to see their show and it was amazing! I've now seen 946 twice and it was just as good the second time around.

If you could play any role, what would be your dream?

Shane: I think Sweeney Todd would be a role in film or stage that I would adore to have.

Who should watch this show, and why?

Ella: Well, obviously I think that everyone should watch the show. It's the perfect up-lifting story to get both children and adults in the festive mood, the other members of the cast are SO talented, and the puppetry is going to be spell-binding. What more could anyone want at Christmas?

Without wild spoilers, tell us one of your favourite lines.

Ella: It's not really a line but I quite like getting to call someone a 'colossal oaf'. In fact, all the insults in this show are pretty impressive.

Shane: I believe a line I loved recording with the team would be the satanic ritual whispering (schnuff schnuff)…

How did you prepare to play your character(s)?

Shane: All of my characters are so different personality-wise that I had to come up with very distinct and different voices for all of them. A lot of warming up is needed for The Devil's gruffness and pitch changes, so I spent a few days just constantly changing up and down with my vocals to not hurt them during recording. Experimenting with different pitches is the key to success for a lot of characters, kinder characters generally sound chirpier and brighter if their voice is quite high, which has a double bonus as it improves your own mood too!

What's your favourite Christmas story/film, and why?

Ella: At home every year we watch A Muppet's Christmas Carol and I think that's probably my favourite Christmas film. But I also love The Nativity! and for the past 3 years, my house-mates and I have made sure that we watch it while we are putting up our Christmas tree.

How are you celebrating Christmas this year?

Shane: The same way I do every year, a large distasteful jumper, round from eating so much food with a very, very, very, large glass of Gluhwein (mulled wine)!

What are your favourite Christmas traditions?

Ella: We always play loads of board games at Christmas which I love. I'm EXTREMELY competitive when it comes to board games, so I'll only play ones which I know I have a chance at winning (so it's a no to Yahtzee or Scrabble). My grandparents also always do a treasure hunt if we visit them at Christmas, and I'm sure it gets more difficult each year. I think I've only ever won it once but most of the time I try and persuade my sister to give me her answers so we can do it as a 'team'.

What's your favourite Christmas song?

Shane: My favourite Christmas song alternates between Fairytale of New York, by The Pogues, and What's This? from Nightmare before Christmas.

What's your star-sign?

Ella: I'm a Leo. Leo's are supposed to be really attention-grabbing and big-headed which I really hope I'm not! But I guess the fact I want to be a teacher is probably pretty Leo-like because apparently, we do well in leadership roles.

How do you like your eggs in the morning?

Shane: I like mine with a hug (bonus points for recognising the reference)!

What is your favourite useless piece of trivia?

Ella: The word astronaut means 'star sailor'.

Shane: If you visited a black hole and had a magical suit that protected you from its gravity, as you reached the event horizon, time would change from your perspective and you would see the ENTIRE life cycle of the universe from start to end in a matter of minutes. While everyone else would see you forever frozen in time by the black hole.

Thanks guys!

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