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Brief Encouter With ... The Ugly Sisters

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Esther Biddle and Simon Kerrigan are currently taking on the roles of Thisun and Thatun, the Ugly Sisters, in Mike Kenny’s new version of Cinderella at West Yorkshire Playhouse.

The cast doubles up to play the part of a group of friendly, frolicking rats: Simon also plays Teeth, and Esther also plays Claws.

How did you get into acting?

Esther: I did a lot of acting at school – and my parents were really supportive and gave me so many opportunities to be creative with drama and music. I did a degree in music, then went to drama school and began my professional career aged 23. If I’m honest, I caught the theatre bug aged 6 when I played the Innkeeper in the Nativity play!

SimonWhen I was in infant school, I remember entertaining other children with the impressions of TV celebrities of the times, I enjoyed making people laugh. As I got older I started joining theatre groups and it grew from there.

Which sister do you play?

Esther: I play Thatun.

Simon And I play Thisun!

What’s the best thing about performing in a children’s production?

Esther: Playing for children is so rewarding because you can – if you try hard to create the magic – totally transport them to a different world. To harness their imagination is brilliant. It also means we usually get to jump around and behave like an idiot which is always great fun for an actor!

Simon I think I’ve heard somewhere that an adult takes around ten minutes from the start of a show to be fully engaged when watching a performance, with children you need to get them interested within two minutes. Once you’ve got a children’s audience engaged it’s wonderful. They are completely with you and regard what they’re seeing as magic!

What will be your character’s funniest scene?

Esther: I hope that our funniest scene will be when we’re getting ready for the ball and trying all our outfits on.

Simon Probably the scene where we are trying to dance…it’s ridiculous! Esther had everyone in fits of hysterics during rehearsals with her leaps and silly dance moves.

Do you have lots of fun working with the puppets?

Esther: The puppets are brilliant fun to work with as they give us another layer through which to tell the story. And kids love them!

Simon As a puppeteer I would say that puppets are an invaluable tool in theatre. It takes a great deal of skill and an almost obsessive attention to detail to bring an inanimate object to life. Puppets are fun and yet some of the most emotive scenes I’ve ever witnessed have involved puppetry.

Which is your favourite song in Cinderella?

Esther: Cinderella’s first song is my favourite I think. And her duet with the Prince. We have some lovely harmonies and the chance to play some beautiful lines on flute and saxophone.

Simon I think the song sung by ‘Lella (this is the rats’ affectionate name for Cinderella in the show!) and The Prince. Very moving.

Cinderella is at West Yorkshire Playhouse until 23 January.


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