Next up under the panto spotlight is our panto Dame, Lady Barbara Hardup. He has performed in many pantomimes and we look forward to welcoming Justin for his debut appearance on our Newbury stage.
Have you been in a pantomime before? What is your favourite thing about performing in one?
I have been in LOTS of pantos before. Never in trousers, though; I’ve always been Dame or an Ugly Sister. I have many favourite things about being in a panto. Highbrow favourite things: I think panto is extremely culturally important. I describe it as the High Art of Low Comedy. For many people, it’s their first ever exposure to theatre, and for many others, it’s the only time they go to the theatre in the whole year, so if only for these reasons, I think there’s a huge responsibility when doing panto not to make it a wasted opportunity. Lowbrow favourite things: as a performer, it’s simply the most fun you can have at Christmas time! Every show is slightly different, and what’s not to like about squirting water at a bunch of people who are screaming at you, while doing some terrible jokes while wearing a frock?
Do you have any memories of being taken to see pantomimes as a child?
Yes. We would always go to the London Palladium panto (because I am very posh and grew up in the 19th Century). But also, because my dad was an actor, we’d go and see him wherever he was performing. Sometimes the Palladium, sometimes Rhyl. You know how it is.
If you were planning a royal ball, who would be on your dream guest list?
I’d like to invite Gemma, Selina, Marcus and Alice from the Corn Exchange Marketing team.
Do you have any Christmas traditions?
Yes. Every Christmas Eve, I ask my elves to pack my magic sleigh full of toys, me and the reindeer set off to deliver them to… hang on, I’m not supposed to be talking abut this. Forget I said anything. Erm, traditions. Yes. We just like to eat turkey and watch Home Alone, like everyone else. Nothing special.
What is your favourite Christmas song?
It’s gotta be Mariah! Close second currently is my best Christmas discovery of last year, which is Jessie J’s cover of The Man With the Bag. Then Dean Martin's Let it Snow. Then John Rutter's The Shepherd’s Pipe Carol. Then Michael Bublé’s It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas. Then The Ronettes' Sleigh Ride. Then Fairytale of New York. I don’t know if it’s obvious, but I very much like Christmas songs. True story: many years ago, me and some pals who were doing a Christmas show in Scarborough, we were driving home for Christmas, talking about how we loved Chris Rea’s Christmas song, Driving Home for Christmas, and we really wanted to listen to Driving Home for Christmas, because we were, at that moment, driving home for Christmas. We stopped at a petrol station, and they had a CD there called Driving Home for Christmas, we bought it so we could listen to the song Driving Home for Christmas, whilst driving home for Christmas. It had every Christmas song on it... except Driving Home for Christmas.
Cinderella runs from Friday 26 November 2021 to Sunday 2 January 2022. Find out more and book your tickets here.