I'd discussed doing a pantomime several times with Qdos Entertainment, but schedule clashes meant it was never possible to jump on board the Jolly Roger and set off for Neverland until now. I'm thrilled we've managed to make it work this year at Richmond.
It's going to be a very different process to how I would normally rehearse, not to mention a brief one; we're rehearsing for two weeks, then straight into the theatre where we get the show ready for our first audiences on the 8 December. I'm looking forward to all the flying and sword-fighting too. Starring recently in Terrence Rattigan's four-hander In Praise of Love was fantastic but I am looking forward to getting out onto the rehearsal floor with a full company of actors, dancers, Lost Boys and all the bells and whistles in our show.
I'm most looking forward to being able to break the fourth wall and encourage audience participation
My wife Rosemary has done many pantomimes (she was a major contributing factor to me deciding to do it), but I think the main difference is that I'll be able to break the fourth wall. To really encourage the audience participation and react to it. That alone is something I'm looking forward to, that immediate response and thinking on my feet to what is happening around me.
The team at Qdos actually asked me what sort of costume I wanted to wear, so I was fortunate enough to have some input. I'm playing my Hook to be a little more Pirates of the Caribbean; he's a little weather-beaten, but with all the roguish seafaring charm everyone expects. I'm not quite dreading it, but the hook will take some getting used to, I worry already I'll forget which hand I've worn it on and come on having swapped affliction from scene to scene.
I don't want to give too much away about our Peter Pan, but there'll be some nods to my previous shows, and some fantastic numbers with some very funny re-written lines, including a big duet with our leading lady and a big ensemble number from Me and My Girl.
Where else can you see men dressed up as dames, princes meeting the girl of their dreams, daring sword fights and magic spells?
Pantomimes are that very special, very rare, very British thing; they mix our unique sense of humour with music, drama, special effects, colourful costumes, and some truly fantastic storytelling, and it allows an audience to join in all the fun. Where else can you see men dressed up as dames, princes meeting the girl of their dreams, daring sword fights, magic spells and high adventure all in one show? Thankfully pantomime is still alive and well, even with our culture of burying our heads in screens and social media. It's a tradition that doesn't see signs of stopping.
My wife and I went to see Dick Whittington at the London Palladium last year which was a fantastic spectacle and a show we both loved. To see a traditional pantomime back in such a fantastic variety house was very special and I'm thrilled to be working with Qdos this year, they treat the art form with such reverence and respect.