He talks to Charlotte Hornby about his appearance as Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz.
You will be playing Scarecrow in this year’s Wizard of Oz at the Tyne Theatre and Opera house, why are you looking forward to performing in pantomime this Easter?
I love doing pantomime, it’s great fun. It’s nice that you can get out there to work with families and be family friendly. I love making the whole family laugh and having a fun time.
What can audiences expect from your performance of the Scarecrow/what do you bring? It’s very Worzel Gummidge. I have modelled the Scarecrow on Worzel Gummidge because he was one of my favourite characters. He was just great. It’s a lovely pantomime for the family and that is the most important thing. It is for the adults as well. They always have a good time. It’s like any good pantomime, full of innuendo that will entertain the adults without being offensive.
Are you looking forward to working with the cast? (Who are you most looking forward to working with?)
Yes, Stevi Ritchie. I did Big Brother with him, and he is a talented lad. I’m looking forward to it. Hollie Swain is a lovely singer. We’ve also got Lewis Denny, he is a Newcastle lad, a Geordie boy. He’s very popular in Newcastle, he’s coming along and he’ll be playing the Lion which is another good part.
How does this production differ from other productions?
I think this is our fifth touring show of the Wizard of Oz. We like to change it around and that is exactly what we are doing today. Changing the script, writing new jokes in, so anyone coming to see the show again will be slightly different. What is your favourite moment in the show? I like it when Scarecrow comes out for the first time. He’s such a daft character and the children in the audience always like his silly antics.
What is it like interacting with the audience members during pantomime, rather than television acting?
A pantomime is a specialised genre so it’s about getting everyone to join in. Everyone knows the rules, “oh yes, it is,” “oh no it isn’t,” “he’s behind you” and all those kinds of elements that must be included in Panto.
How was last year difficult for you when the pandemic closed theatres?
Yes of course. We didn’t have any work for 14 months; it was very tough. Fortunately, production offices like Enchanted had grants that managed to keep them ahead which gives a chance for the actors to be recast and given work because I hadn’t worked for 14 months.
What do you enjoy other than your career?
I like doing stand-up. I’m a proper comedian and that is what I tend to do most of the year, then pantomime at Christmas and Easter.
Why should everyone come and see the Wizard of Oz in panto?
It’s fun and it’s a great show. Everyone has a really good time. Mum’s and Dad’s, Granny and Grampa! It’s not the movie version of The Wizard of Oz, but it’s based on the story of Dorothy going to The Emerald City and meeting the Wizard but with lots of panto fun and interaction added in. It is full of lovely songs and dancing too. Tell me something that you have never told another reporter before?
I really have got straw for brains! Hahaha!… One final thing, I’m really looking forward to coming to Newcastle, Geordie’s are class!