Playing Dame – Paul Laidlaw (Dame Dolly in Snow White, Stevenage)
Date: 2 December 2010
What similarities are there between the Dame character in the different pantomime stories?
Most Dames tend to be a “mum” figure, so that aspect is fairly consistent. She's also usually involved in helping the hero or heroine in some way and is of course, a major comedy character throughout the show.
And what are the major differences?
Each panto has its own very individual story and the differences for the Dame are governed by how she fits into that story.
How do you personally see the role of Dame?
Funny, of course, but also warm and with a strong partnership with her son or nurselings (Herbie is her son in this particular show). But also leading the visual and vocal comedy throughout.
How have audience reactions – from both children and adults – changed over the years you've played Dame?
Really, the reaction hasn't altered a lot – although familiarity has perhaps increased the adults’ immediate rapport with me.
How does the trend towards having the Principal Boy played by a young man and not a girl affect the Dame's role?
It makes it much easier for the Dame to flirt with the principal boy when he's played by a guy. The gender-bending can get a bit weird when it is a girl! And I think children respond more to a guy/girl love story than when two girls have to play it.
- by Anne Morley-Priestman
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