ALEX Weatherhill has been making a Dame for himself for the first time – and a resplendent name for her too – as Dame Nancy Angelina Norma Nigella Alana Trott (Nanna for short) in York Stage’s Jack And The Beanstalk.
Here, Alex discusses his “rather challenging and iconic start” to performing in pantomime as he answers Charles Hutchinson’s quickfire questions.
What was the first pantomime you ever saw and what do you recall of it?
“I don’t remember which one it was, but I remember being totally confused about people shouting things out. Even though I was young, I had only seen grown-up theatre, where you must sit politely, not talk and respect the performers and the theatre itself. I thought everyone was being really rude shouting things out!”
What was your first pantomime role?
“Can you believe it…this! My first role on stage in panto! I’ve been a musical director and director for quite a few, but never been the other side of the footlights for this particular style of theatre.”
What would be your ideal pantomime role if you could choose?
“Ummmm, I’m going to have to say this one! I waited a long time and went in with a rather iconic and challenging start!”
Who else would you like to play and why?
“I’ve always wondered if playing Dame would suit and wanted to try it. I’m getting a taste for it and would like to try more…maybe play an Ugly Sister, where you get to be mean!”
Who is your favourite pantomime performer and why?
“I worked with a Dame a few years ago called Joe Standerline. He’s recently been part of the movement to bring attention to the arts at this tricky time and so some might recognise his look from the media.
“As a Dame, he treads the balance between lovable, sharp wit and a little bit of sauce. I love that.”
This year’s pantomime will be an experience like no other…what are your expectations of performing a show in these strange circumstances?
“We’re all going to be a little emotional as we get to actually perform on a stage with real people. We aim to bring a little joy into the lives of our audience; some sparkle at the close of a tough year for many.”
Which pantomime role should Boris Johnson play and why?
“Ooh, this is a tricky one to answer without getting too political! Ha ha. I think his hair and demeanor suit Beauty’s mad inventor father in Beauty And The Beast!”
Who or what has been the villain of 2020?
“Covid-19! It would definitely be wearing a cape and lit in green and red!”
Who or what has been the fairy of 2020?
“The vaccine! It waited until the last moment to come and save the day, but in it comes lit in pink and delivered by a wand…..of sorts!”
How would you sum up 2020 in five words?
“Testing. Re-evaluation. Home. Netflix. Zoom!”
What are your wishes for 2021?
“I hope that we can get back to some sense of normality, so that we can come together and appreciate the company of others again.”
What are your hopes for the world of theatre in 2021?
“The hope is for a bounce-back and the joyous celebration of the arts again. The arts being streamed online got many through these dark days; let’s hope we can find a way to bring it back to life in a live setting.”
York Stage presents Jack And The Beanstalk at Theatre @41 Monkgate, York, until January 3 2021.
Show times: Boxing Day, December 26, 11am, 2pm (sold out) and 7pm (sold out); December 27, 11am (sold out), 1pm (sold out) and 6pm; December 28, 11am, 2pm (sold out) and 7pm (sold out); December 29, 2pm (sold out) and 7pm; December 30, 2pm (sold out) and 7pm; New Year’s Eve, December 31, 12 noon (sold out); January 2, 2pm (sold out) and 7pm; January 3, 1pm and 6pm.
Box office: online only at yorkstagepanto.com. Please note, audiences will be seated in household/support bubble groupings only.