Q&A: Anita Murray on sailing, singing and Springboard’s best charity panto yet

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"Performing definitely draws people closer together, as we’re working towards the same goal."

Later this month, our CEO Anita Murray is swapping her laptop for a panto script in the hospitality industry pantomime, Dick Whittington. Oh yes she is!  

On 29 January – 1 February, Anita will join familiar faces from the likes of The Ritz, The Caterer, Marriott, Handpicked Hotels and Searcy’s in the all-singing all-dancing West End extravaganza, raising funds for hospitality industry charity Springboard.  

We catch up with Anita on how rehearsals are going, taking to the seas with Springboard, and why Dick Whittington will be the charity’s best show yet.  

Tell us a little about your involvement with Springboard.

Springboard has been one of the main hospitality industry charities I’ve connected with since I joined William Murray ten years ago. 

I’ve been involved in a number of initiatives and activities, as I really believe in what Springboard is doing, giving disadvantaged youngsters a leg up in what is a fantastic industry. After all, the industry needs new waves of people coming in to make it even better.  

I’m involved in Springboard’s fundraising committee, which looks at all the ways to raise funds through different events and activities. I’ve also been lucky to take part in sailing regattas with the charity. It’s a magical experience of racing with a team, and the camaraderie you get dealing with rope burns when winging your way across the water! Last year the Springboard boat came second, which we were pretty chuffed with! This experience and the panto have been real personal highlights for me - truly creative and inclusive ways of bringing the industry together to fundraise.  

Springboard has always been incredibly inclusive, promoting team work and collaboration that ultimately break down barriers. One minute you're being introduced to someone from The Ritz and the next minute you’re hugging them because you’ve been involved in a great panto performance, or you’re commiserating with them while struggling with them on a boat. All of this makes for developing better relationships in the industry.

What part are you playing in Dick Whittington? 

I'm one of four singers. We're performing some great numbers and I get to fulfil my lifetime ambition of being in Abba! The question is...am I the blonde or the redhead? 

How are rehearsals going? 

As we’re now at the stage to rehearse the whole performance together, it's amazing to see how all individual rehearsals and scenes are meshing together to form one show.  

Rehearsing the opening number has been particularly uplifting. Having a cast of 50 people dancing together means we all leave rehearsals on a high with massive grins on our faces! Without a doubt it will be the best Springboard panto yet. There’s funny parts, amazing songs and witty dialogue that’s very hospitality focused of course! 

Have you formed new friendships with your panto castmates? 

I’m getting very close to my Abba comrades ‘Benny’, ‘Bjorn’ and ‘Agnetha’ - we're having an amazing laugh together. Performing definitely draws people closer together, as we’re working towards the same goal.  

Why do you think the panto will be a hit this year? 

We've harnessed momentum from the first and second years and come into the third show so energised. Everything’s bigger and better – the performances are more professional than before, and the dancing numbers are more ambitious. From the get-go, everyone’s been so focused on making it special for the audience.  

What would you say to anyone who hasn’t bought their ticket yet? 

What other chance will you get to see your industry peers perform in the West End?! And it’s all for a fantastic cause. Buy a ticket – you'll be doing good and feeling good!   

Break a leg Anita!  

A limited number of seats are still available, click here to secure yours now.

Rosie Carr