Thursday, April 10, 2014
Oh yes there will be! As Norwich Theatre Royal announces two more of its major leads in Peter Pan, there look set to be even bigger helpings of comedy, kids’ entertainment and craziness in this year’s panto.
Peter Pan opens at the Theatre Royal in Norwich on December 18 and the latest names to be confirmed for the cast are CBeebies favourite Sid Sloane and critically acclaimed Ha Ha! stage shows creator Ben Langley.
Sid, who steps into a dress and takes on the dame role of Sarah the Cook and Ben, who will be sidling up to baddy Captain Hooke in his role as comedy pirate Starkey, will be joining panto favourite Richard Gauntlett, who returns by public demand to play Smee.
“I think this is going to be a great pantomime – with fantastic live music, wonderful costumes and a fabulous script,” says Sid, who knows Norfolk well through touring here with his own production, Sid’s Show.
“I also know I will be on stage with some really good cast members, all giving great performances.”
Although Sid is no stranger to pantomime, Peter Pan will be something of a first for him, he explains.
“I’ve never played a dame before. I have worn dresses lots of times for Cbeebies – in Let’s Play, Rebecca and I dress up as all sorts of different characters - but I have never quite gone right into the dark passages of my mind to create a whole pantomime dame!” he jokes.
Dressed in flouncy florals and plenty of petticoats, Sid plans to present a rather different style of pantomime dame to those who have previously minced across the stage at the Theatre Royal.
“I am going to be Sarah the Caribbean Cook - all those Caribbean uncles and dads out there better watch out because I’m going to having a lot of fun at their expense!”
Sid, who was born in London but now lives in Brighton, started his working life as a sales assistant for Laura Ashley. He went on to take other jobs in sales before deciding on a complete change of direction and becoming a postman while he paid his way through drama school.
As his acting career began to take off he won a wide range of roles in productions as diverse as the world stage premiere of Withnail And I, various Shakespeare plays and the UK tour of the Roald Dahl classic The Twits.
But it was presenting on CBeebies that shot him to fame after he was invited to help launch the phenomenally successful children’s channel in 2002.
“I have been with CBeebies for 13 years now and I feel very settled as a performer, especially one used to creating lots of different characters,” he says.
“Through my own show I am used to responding to children and to being prepared for almost anything to happen during a live performance.”
Pantomime brings together everything he loves, he points out, and he is looking forward to approaching it from a different angle this year.
“I love dressing up and I enjoy being in a big show with lots of other people – and, of course, it is great to be performing live,” he says.
“Other panto roles – the hero, for example – are much safer so it will be good to be able to let go a bit more as the dame this year.
“I played Dandini in Cinderella last year and that was also a bit different; it opened up the possibility that I could do something a bit more gregarious in future.”
Sid, who has a 16 year old son, is passionate about Christmas and is eager to make the most of the festive season in Norwich.
“It is my favourite time of year. I come from a family of five and my parents are from Guyana. We always have a great time, with lots of special Caribbean food.
“Watching me in a pantomime has become part of our Christmas tradition now and this year I am hoping my family will be here with me in Norwich to celebrate.”
With all his television work, the Edinburgh Fringe, a new tour starting in Hunstanton in October and then Peter Pan, Sid seems to have the rest of the year full to capacity.
“I believe in working hard and I am lucky enough to be doing something I love,” he points out.
“I feel like I am very much in the right place at the moment with my work and that includes taking part in the pantomime. I believe in children and think there is nothing better than working with them in this way.
“It sparks their imagination and encourages them to develop their own creativity – and it is fun and unpredictable at the same time.”
Peter Pan opens at the Theatre Royal in Norwich on December 18 and runs until January 18, 2015. For more information or for tickets call 01603 630000 or visit www.theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk