Hi Simon - you're off to Gorleston to seek your fortune, but what's the role that you're playing in the pantomime?
"I’m playing Alderman Fitzwarren, father to Alice and well-to-do businessman of London!"
Of course Dick Whitington & His Cat needs little introduction - we're all familiar with the story, but is the Gorleston pantomime a traditional take, or is there a twist in the tail (pun totally intended)?
"Audiences will enjoy a traditional retelling of the tale, with modern gags and lots of silliness as expected! There are great dance numbers too, as well as stunning sets."
At the time of writing, you've only had a few rehearsals, but are you enjoying it so far?
"Andy is a terrific director and works quickly, and he has a wonderful sense of the staging and how to set gags and dance numbers. As such, it’s been a fantastic escapade getting to grips with his play! The rest of the cast are brilliant and we’re like old friends even now!"
I know panto is of huge importance to venues because of the income it provides, but does it hold any particular significance to you?
"It’s the end of the year and a privilege to have fun within a world of fantasy and festive cheer. Sharing this kind of theatre with families is very important to me, even more so as my daughter grows up seeing daddy onstage! It’s a chance to let loose, have fun, and enjoy Christmas within the community."
Speaking of the venue, I had the pleasure of performing at the Pavilion Theatre for the first time earlier this year with Yippee-Ki-Yay, and it's a really special, charming place - how have you been enjoying your experience there?
"I adore this theatre. It has such a rich history and I’m fortunate enough to be staying at the digs opposite, so I’m close enough to stroll in early! The theatre is beautiful and characterful with lovely people working there. I hope to do more here in the future, and contribute to the rich heritage around me."
Are there any people among the cast and crew that you've worked with before?
"I’m happily working with all new people and loving it!"
Normally I'd be asking if you're looking forward to Christmas, but as an actor, what's it like to be contracted to perform for the majority of the festive season?
"It’s just wonderful to have work right up to the end of the year. I’m using part of the wage to take my family on a break in January. Pantomime is always such fun, and working with new people in new venues helps keep things fresh and exciting. I’m very grateful to be doing this kind of work.
"It definitely gets one into the festive mood! I’m so looking forward to making children laugh and being part of their Christmas memories. It’s so important to come together and enjoy theatre, and to show children how a simple story can teach good things about family and friendships."
I can't avoid asking about the theatre company you and your partner Daisy run, Strange Fascination. You completed a successful tour of Alice Through the Looking Glass in the summer, then followed it up with a couple of smaller scale productions in October, so what's coming next for you guys?
"Well, 2024 is our tenth anniversary so we are looking forward to bringing a brand new open air adaption of Winnie the Pooh to Norfolk & Suffolk, as well as our popular puppet shows and summer activities. There will also be our regular Halloween shows too and maybe something old but new in the spring!"
And finally, back to Dick Whittington - with an abundance of pantomimes to choose from at this time of year, why should audiences flock to the Pavilion Theatre? What do you think they'll enjoy most?
"Well, there are, as you say, lots of pantos going on across the region, so I'd encourage audiences to support regional theatre and see as many as they can!
"Dick Whittington is one of the best pantos to see as there’s a children’s favourite in idle Jack, a hilarious character along with his fabulous mother Sarah! Then of course Tommy the Cat always saves the day! Families will love to boo Queen Rat and find a hero in Dick Whittington, along with Alice Fitzwarren who is a brilliant role model. A kind fairy will enchant all, and I’m quite funny too! Then there’s our wonderful dancers and the Ratlings: it’s a show with festive fun, hilarious gags, beautiful songs and more, all set in the simply stunning Gorleston Pavilion, so book your tickets now! And Merry Christmas!"
Tickets for Dick Whittington can be booked via gorlestonpavilion.co.uk
It runs from 7th Dec to 6th Jan.