“I have always found Panto very special, but not for the same reasons most people do. For the vast majority of the panto going population it is their early memories of attending the pantomime with their families at Christmas time that instilled their affection for it, but not for me.
I have a vague recollection of being taken as a birthday treat, (27th Dec, small presents only please) to the old Playhouse in Fisherton Street. I couldn’t have been any more than 4 years old and I think it must have been Dick Whittington, as it had a large ship in it and that’s my only memory. My real relationship with it came some years later when as a Stage ’65 member I began initially doing some walk-on parts in main house productions, then began to help out backstage and then, on to get a job crewing on the panto!
I loved every aspect of the theatre and lied about my age to do the work, I was 15 at the time and had no national insurance number so told the wages department that I had forgotten it every week until I reached my 16th birthday. I even skipped school to work there and at one point was called into the headmaster’s office, whereupon he told me that he would keep my absence a secret if I donated a percentage of my wages to the school fund. My response is unprintable. Things were very different in the 70’s!
Standing backstage this week listening to the overture, to the audience clapping along watching my fellow actors preparing to go on I have found myself on more than one occasion being transported back 33 years, loving every moment as much I am right now!”