Chris Pizzey is abandoning Basil Brush (one of his regular colleagues) for the pantomime season and joining the gang in Sleeping Beauty at Malvern Theatres, he’s playing Silly Billy and directing the show! I caught up with Chris to find out all about this year’s extravaganza. Sleeping Beauty runs at Malvern Theatres from 15 December 2016 to 8 January 2017.
Thanks for talking to Break A Leg, Chris, is it gong to be your first time in Malvern?
No, it’s not, I am returning as three years ago I directed Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, here.
This year you’re playing Silly Billy?
Yes, lots more silliness and magic and all sorts!
Have you played that type of character before?
Yes, I do a lot of that kind of thing and I enjoy it, it’s a good comedy part to play.
Basil’s (Basil Brush, one of Chris’s side-kicks) not joining you this year?
Basil’s not joining me for this one but that’s fine, we’ve been together all summer on tour.
What differences do you find between working in a pantomime and appearing in shows such as The Basil Brush Show?
There are differences as a performer, I think many people can look at panto and think it’s just a bit of silliness but it’s not at all. If you get it right you’ve got a fantastic story where you are gripping the kids, maybe for the first time in their life. So you’ve got the truth of the story which is the essence and everything’s got to hang off that. Then you bring into the mix all of the comedy and magic, all the big dance numbers. I want our dance numbers to be West End standard, they’ve got to be as good as we can make them. Too many people think “it’s just panto”. There’s lots of fantastic visual effects as well. So, panto isn’t the same sort of thing as we do with Basil Brush, Basil is real Vaudeville, slapstick for the kids, whereas panto has got the truth, the love and the magic of Christmas, it’s also got the fun and mayhem all bundled into one.
What do you think of the heckling that goes with the territory?
Oh, well you always get hecklers but I love that, I say bring it on! There’s nothing more that I like than going off at a tangent, getting the spotlight up and saying “OK, let’s have a chat!”. I think that’s another reason why people love panto, every show is different and you don’t know what you’re going to get back, you’ve got to be ready to ride the wave, it’s all fun and games.
Finally, what would you say to encourage people to buy a ticket to come and see Sleeping Beauty?
You must come and see Sleeping Beauty because it’s got all of the tradition you’d expect from a panto and we’ve got some serious special effects. Especially as we build towards the crescendo in act two we’ve got some fantastic special effects that I think are going to set us apart this year. It’s going to be a real moment for the kids, I know what’s going to happen and I know they’re going to be saying “woah!”. We’ve got a great fight scene which it’s worth coming to see the panto for, alone! Plus it will be a jam packed show with fun and mayhem.
Thanks to Chris for his time and I look forward to heckling him in December!