Comedian Patrick Monahan reckons he came to panto with a number of definite advantages.
Not for Patrick all the preconceptions and fond memories which comes from having grown up with panto.
“I had never seen panto,” says Patrick who takes on the Captain Hook role in The Pantomime Adventures of Peter Pan in Worthing this Christmas, “and I never knew anything about it. I didn’t understand what these different characters were. I didn’t understand the whole concept.
“I got offered it a few years ago and couldn’t do it, and last year they offered again and just said ‘Try to see if you like it!’ Lots of comics are doing panto now, people like Tim Vine.
“And so I turned up and I was playing the baddie, but people were saying ‘Why aren’t you doing the comic part?’ They were saying ‘Why are you playing the baddie?’ They showed me the dialogue, and I thought ‘This is a bit serious’. But they let me cut loose and make it a bit lighter!”
But he still managed the villainy. Last year, success was 11 kids crying: “As a stand-up, if that happens, you know you are getting it wrong!”
Patrick’s first panto was in Billingham: “It was one of those places that time forget. It had a steel works, and it has got a theatre which is bigger than the whole community! The first week was weird. It was hard for me. I was thinking ‘What the hell is all this about?’ but once they started to let me loose a bit and doing a bit of my own stuff, that’s when it got good.”
As Patrick says, the point is that he was able to come at it fresh. That and the fact that he is able to go off at a tangent – to an extent.
“You have got to be careful. You have still got to tell the story. If I was doing my stand-up, I would take them off on one and take them round the car park and back again, but with panto obviously you have got to be careful that you don’t veer off too much.”
But he had fun last year. Playing the baddie, one of his tasks was the kidnap the bears, and he was armed with a sleeping potion: “But every night I would go slightly off script…”
Children would be shouting out what they thought he might have in his bottle…. before he brought the panto back on course.
“Doing stand-up, people think it is terrifying to have to go up there on your own, but really it is quite easy compared to doing a play or something like that and there are a few of you on stage, and it is like you have got to keep the plates spinning. People think there is safely in numbers, but as a stand-up you would rather be the pilot taking the plane in the air and bringing it down again!”
The Pantomime Adventures of Peter Pan runs from December 2-January 8 at The Pavilion Theatre, Worthing. Tickets from Worthing Theatres’ box office on 01903 206206 and www.worthingtheatres.co.uk.
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