If there was such a thing as a "mom crush," I would have one on Jessica Holmes. I've met Jessica on several occasions and every time I end up:
a) laughing hysterically, or
b) commenting on what an awesome mom she is.
Not only is Jessica one of Canada's funniest comediennes, she also has one of the biggest hearts. This combination makes her the perfect person to star in Ross Petty's Annual Christmas Panto, Peter Pan. Every year, Ross Petty assembles a hilarious cast of characters to put on a kooky, family-friendly extravaganza guaranteed to entertain kids and their parents. I'm a big fan of these shows and clearly, I have a crush on Jessica, so you can imagine how happy I am that she took time from her rehearsals to answer a few questions about the show and motherhood. Read on and crush along with me.
Tell us about the character you're playing.
I'm playing The Queen of Hearts, and although she can be commanding, I also wanted to play her with a vulnerability that would make kids warm to her: hence the odd speech affectation!
What is so special about Ross Petty's annual pantos?
Ross himself - he's amazing with audiences. He's so engaging and it's amazing to see kids so happy to boo him!
How much improv is there in the show?
Although the show is mostly scripted, you never know what little moment might set Ross off on some line of jokes. And personally, I get to improvise with the kids, or with the other actors if they miss a line. Making other actors laugh on stage is the greatest feeling!
The pre-videos are always so funny. What can we expect to see this year.
The kids from The Next Step visiting Sick Kids Hospital is my favourite commercial. A mix of funny and heart! And I like knowing that Dan Chameroy had to dress up like Tinkerbell for his Porter commercial! (see one of the videos here!)
What do your kids think about you being in this show? Have they seen any rehearsals? Or your costume?
My daughter feels like she's hit the jackpot! She'd live in a tent in the theatre if she could! And my son thinks Peter Pan is amazing - an awesome hero. I asked their permission before I signed on to the long hours of rehearsals, and they were so excited to see the finished product that they gave me a big 'ol yes!
How does being a mom influence the way you perform in this show?
I feel so much more connected to what's good for kids. And this year, instead of a romantic story, the show is about the friendship between Wendy and Peter. It's so sweet and innocent that I ugly cried the first time I saw the script.
What's your favourite thing about being in these Ross Petty shows?
We have a blast backstage, and it's a chance for me to meet some amazing new talents. I'm a super fan of the dancers in the show.
What do you think about this being the last time Ross will perform in one of these shows?
When anyone hears that he won't perform again they're like "why???" He's so vibrant and engaging in this role. It's going to be very emotional for everyone as this run goes on.
Why are you so darn funny??
Haha! It's just my natural way of dealing with things. It diffuses so many situations with my kids. If they're fighting over something I'll do an impromptu stand up set about how useless that thing is. They love it, and I don't have to get uptight.
Peter Pan Production Image credit: Racheal McCaig Photography