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Susie McKenna: Behind the scenes at Mother Goose rehearsals

The Hackney Empire's artistic director is the first up in a series of blogs that lift the lid on the development of one of the UK's most popular pantomimes

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We've had three great weeks of rehearsal now, a lot of really hard graft but a lot of fun and laughter too! It's always like family coming home when we begin working on the panto but for some reason this year it feels like it more than ever. It's always a joy to work with such consummate professionals both on stage and backstage. We had quite a lot of illness in the first couple of weeks, some nasty colds and wintery bugs, but hopefully we got it out of the way and now have a clear run ahead of us!

This week's been all about adding the razzle dazzle. On Saturday and some of Monday we lit the show which always makes it come to life, then it was working to add in the sound effects. We did a bit of glittering at the end of the night on Monday. I have a bit of a superstition that I have to glitter at least something on the set. But I'm not very good at it so wonderful Company Stage Manager Vanessa makes sure it's not too in view…charming! After all the glitter we had a quick drink in the pub with Lighting Designer and Programmer Paul, Production Manager Simon Bourne was there too of course!

On Wednesday we did the sound check with the wonderful Autograph Boys and then dry teched the hard bits until 10 pm with the crew, which always makes for a long day. Actors aren't called for a dry tech so it's just us and crew running all the cues before we get the cast in to do it all over again! We had to change the ‘Vanity Lair' set seven times because the cook pot arrived and she's a monster!!!! Take a look at the picture below! We had to have a bit of a re-think on that one but we did have a laugh as it caused quite a stir arriving in Hackney (one lady wanted to buy it for her son's wedding as she'd never seen such a big Dutch pot!)

After the long day it was straight home with Sharon D Clarke, Deputy Stage Manager Johnny and Assistant Director Tony Whittle for a quick G&T before bedtime.

We were all up early on Thursday morning for the first main tech session with all the young ensemble, pyrotechnics and dry ice - everything that you can imagine that makes panto such good fun! Two more tech sessions tomorrow. Hope we get to the last scene of Act 1!

We haven't got into full costume yet so that's in store at the end of the week and this year I'll be taking to the stage alongside Sharon and Clive.. I look a bit ridiculous in my wig, tracksuit and stilettos but hey, hop, a full transformation soon!

Mother Goose is playing at the Hackney Empire until 4 January 2015. For more information and to book tickets, click here.

Check out more of our Christmas coverage on our dedicated Panto page.