Oh, yes I did!


This year, for the first time since 2010, I was in a panto with Gingercow Theatrical Productions, and I had an absolute ball. This was special, for a whole bunch of reasons. Getting back on stage for the first time since pandemic ended plays was a thrill, and we could tell that audiences were as pleased as us to be back watching live theatre. And I have long wanted to return to pantomime, so it was brilliant to get the chance to be a meanie in Jack and the Beanstalk.

A green flyer with a bold title in yellow - Jack and the Beanstalk. A subtitle is on a wooden-effect frame - the gigantic family pantomime.
Our flyer

I don’t seem to play nice people very often any more, but that’s OK – nasty people can be much more interesting! My role was Baron Waysland. The main purpose of the character is to make sure that Jack and his mother need to pay their rent and therefore sell their cow – basically, to make sure that the beanstalk bit of the story happens. But I had plenty to do throughout, acting as an unwanted admirer to Dame Trott, generally annoying everyone and getting to sing the wonderful “You’ll Be Back” from Hamilton. A wonderful song, which I milked for all it was worth. It’s Panto after all – the audiences would be disappointed if we didn’t ham it up! I grew my beard long for the role and spent some time carefully brushing grey facepaint through it. Not my most handsome look, certainly, but just right for the character.

A man wearing a brocaded jacket. He has a bushy grey beard.
Baron Buster Waysland

Pantomime is important, because it is often a child’s first experience of live theatre (we know we had several young audience members who this was true for) and it brings a real sense of community. Performing in village halls leant a sense of togetherness and warmth to the whole thing which could have been missing in a smaller venue. And in the dark times we are living through, it is wonderful to be able to escape for a couple of hours, laugh and be released from inhibitions. In pantomime, you can boo the baddies and cheer the heroes. In real life, cheering doesn’t always help, and we often have no chance to let baddies know how we feel. For me, as well, the rehearsals were a much-needed oasis of sheer joy in my week. During those times, work did not exist, my mental health did not exist, the world outside did not exist. Just a bunch of bizarre people, lots of laughter and a clear victory of good over evil. And really, I could not have asked for more.

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