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Jeremy Corbyn with Rapunzel's "Prince Corbyn", played by Alex Hope, and Fairy Jane and Fairy John

Jeremy Corbyn with Rapunzel’s “Prince Corbyn”, played by Alex Hope, and Fairy Jane and Fairy John

When news of the Park Theatre’s pantomime, Rapunzel, came through earlier this year, I remember clocking the name of the hero character Prince Corbyn – names are never a coincidence when it comes to pantomimes, surely?

But had naming considerations also played a part in casting the role? Finding an actor named Alex Hope to play Corbyn in a fairy tale story really was just too good to be true.

Of course, I should have anticipated the inevitable publicity photo, as well. The clever people at the Park invited the real Jeremy Corbyn – who, in addition to being Labour leader is the venue’s local MP (for Islington North) and a “long-time supporter of Park Theatre’s work” – along this past week to meet his namesake. Corbyn even agreed to pose with some cheeky puppets – not Spitting Image-style political punchbags, by “Fairy Jane” and “Fairy John” who feature in the show.

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Whatever my feelings about Corbyn’s performance as leader of the Labour Party (of which I am a member), I love MPs who champion theatre, especially their local theatres, so this gets a big thumbs-up from me.

Having a willing famous person – especially one who so dominates the headlines at the moment – is a big bonus when planning a photo opp that makes commentators like me take notice. What else?

Well, speak to a good photographer (and you definitely need one of those) about composition, lighting and the rest, but also on the checklist must be:

  • Famous person being shown out of context
  • Famous person with impossibly gorgeous sidekicks
  • Famous person doing something laugh-out-loud silly….

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On these scores, my favourite publicity pics this year, and possibly of all time, were the series released in September of the inimitable Christopher Biggins, dressed as an RAF servicewoman, being carried around the foyer of the Dominion Theatre by some extremely hunky soldiers, ahead of the West End Heroes concert Biggins hosted there.

The PR for that, Kevin Wilson, told me this was one of the most fun photoshoots he’d ever organised, non-stop laughter. It shows. And that may be one of the most important, “secret” ingredients for a great shot: humour.

Rapunzel opens tonight (7 December 2015) at the Park Theatre, where it continues until 2 January 2016.

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