Cast from Peter Pan, including Strictly Come Dancing judge Craig Revel Horwood who will star as Captain Hook, took part in a pirate-themed press launch aboard The Golden Hinde II on 20th September 2016. Photos were taken on the deck of the replica of Sir Francis Drake’s Famous Galleon, with fabulous views across the Thames.
Craig Revel Horwood is a well-known face on television in the UK and now, all over the world, as a judge on all thirteen series of BBC1’s Strictly Come Dancing, presented by Claudia Winkleman and Tess Daly. Last year Craig returned to his roots as a performer in musical theatre, starring as Miss Hannigan in the new UK national tour of Annie. He has most recently directed and choreographed the new UK tour of Sister Act starring Alexandra Burke.
Craig was joined by Paul Burling who rose to fame as a finalist in the fourth series of Britain’s Got Talent, wowing judges and audiences alike with his hilarious impressions of well-known faces. In addition to a wide range of panto and other stage work, Paul has also had his own ITV special, It’s Paul Burling!, which was seen by millions.
Also at the photoshoot was Isobel Hathaway who is no stranger to the production having previously played Tinkerbell in Nottingham, Llandudno, Crawley, Plymouth, Southampton, Wolverhampton and High Wycombe.
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Both Craig and Isobel took time out at the launch to chat about the production.
Interview with Craig Revel Horwood
Q: You have played Hook before with some of the same cast, will you treat this run at Bromley differently to the others?
Craig: Well because it’s my last time as Hook I’m going to enjoy it a bit more. I’m going to be more evil if I can (evil laugh). I’m going to miss playing this part, as it has certainly been more comfortable than playing the women roles – because of the corsets, heels and tights and hopefully get a bit more banter going with our comedian Paul Burling, maybe doing some more localized jokes as well.
Q: Do you know Bromley at all?
Craig: No not at all, but I will. I’m going to be living there for the time that I’m there which will be good too so I will get to know it quite well. It is great fun doing two shows a day – I mean it is exhausting especially as I work 7 days a week because of Strictly. The panto is not on on a Saturday, then we do two shows every other day.
Q: They must really love you to not have a Saturday show at a theatre over the festive period, what a compliment!
Craig: Yes it’s amazing isn’t it, it’s a huge thing, but it is good too as it means we get the Sunday, which is fantastic, and other people have holidays and a lot of schools book which I love. I mean I think it is really important for the children to come in, so you can teach them how to love the theatre. It is an introduction to live theatre which I think is really important. The reason I think it is so important is we want our theatres to survive, and not become car parks or apartments. There are so many wonderful theatres in this country it would be such a terrible shame if this tradition wasn’t handed down.
Q: Panto is a very British tradition, did you have them growing up in Australia? Or even know about them?
Craig: No, I only became aware of them I guess when I went to Blackpool and Edinburgh to be in Cats. I saw pantos were on and I thought I had better go and see one. It was really odd – I mean people screaming “he’s behind you” is just mad, but a real art in itself, and it’s great that kids get to interact like that. So I champion it, I used to think panto was sort of below what I was as a director and choreographer in that way.
Q: Do you think there is a bit of snobbery in the arts?
Craig: Yes I think there is, but now I’ve worked in it, I know it is a really difficult art, and it’s not just the grueling schedule but your acting has to be really good. You can’t just go on as a name and say a line. I don’t believe in that – you have to be able to act.
Q: Some people will not realise you have a history and training in theatre, they just know you as a judge from the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing show.
Craig: Exactly, it’s really great to go on – sing, dance and act, as I don’t really get to do that the rest of the year. Although that being said I did come off tour after playing Miss Hannigan in Annie, which was fantastic! I was playing a woman in a serious role.
Q: Why do you think they cast you over so many of our other talented British females?
Craig: Because I can sing it, I can dance it and I can act it. It doesn’t matter what sex you are, there are a lot of women who play men as well and I encourage that too, and actually if you want to go into the whole thing, women would like to be called actors not actresses so bite the bullet let them. We are all actors. (then said while laughing and in a put on voice) – Well no one matched me darling, ha!
Q: So you put in the same amount of preparation doing a panto as in Annie?
Craig: Absolutely, I have to be believable. You can have some silly fun in panto but it has to be believable. I mean I play a character on the telly as well but he has my name so it is a little confusing and I don’t know who I am in the supermarket (he jokes).
Q: With Panto and Strictly how do you keep a work/life balance?
Craig: What I do in all seriousness, I work really hard for 6 months, then I will have 6 weeks off in Australia where I can see my family and not be recognized, it’s downtime, it’s family time and I just don’t do any work then and it’s really lovely. Then generally over the summer I will do a theatre show, this year it was Sister Act which will tour for a year so it keeps my creative juices flowing.
Q: If you could get some West End stars on to Strictly who would you like to see on the dance floor?
Craig: Well we haven’t had Ruthie Henshall, I’d love to see her on the show, I think she would be absolutely fantastic. And what about Derek Jacobi or Sir Ian Mckellen wouldn’t that be great.
I work with so many people that are not a name yet, and if I was to give anyone that lucky break it would be Karen Mann, she is an amazing actor but has never been on TV, and probably better than the ones you do see on TV. Karen Mann really is phenomenal in Sister Act. She plays Mother Superior and she is one of my most favourite actresses. But there are so many talented people in theatre that just need a break. When actors ask my advice how to get on I do say – try and get a season on Eastenders or something. I mean I wouldn’t be playing these wonderful parts I’m offered if it wasn’t for me being on the TV even if I can actually do it, that is the reality.
Q: Have you got a message for all reading at London Theatre 1?
Craig: Well certainly, get along and see Sister Act, if you can get a ticket as it has been selling out, it will be revisiting some cities as it was booked out before and we are hoping to bring it to the West End in August or September next year for a 6 month season. Then take it out as an international tour which will be fun and I’m hoping I can take it home to Australia as it’s never been there. I can show them my version.
I also want to say to anyone working in theatreland keep going! Keep plodding on even if you are not getting work, keep the theatre alive and keep your dreams apparent – keep them there at the forefront as I think if you do keep your dreams alive you sort of win at life don’t you.
Interview with Isobel Hathaway
Q: You have played Tinkerbell before a few times, what are your memories and what are you hoping to do the same or different this year?
Isobel: I have brilliant memories of being Tinkerbell which is the reason I keep doing it. I love her, not in many pantos do you get such a great story, and Tinkerbell is a really important part of the Peter Pan story. I get to be naughty and I get to be nice so I love that element of it. I also love getting to play a character a lot of children relate to. Also, a lot of the children come to panto knowing of Tinkerbell already so they are expecting to see me which I love – and I get a great reception.
In terms of change, I think Tinkerbell changes a little bit every year, as I change as a person I bring something else to it. There is always more to find in the story, always another angle, it’s such a good story we look to bring out the real truth in it to really make the children believe.
Q: Peter Pan is one of the less traditional pantos what do you think are the main differences?
Isobel: Like you said it’s less traditional, you don’t really have a romantic prince and princess, there is no real romance it is all kind of unsaid. It is love and friendship more than romance, which is very different to the other fairy stories.
Q: As an Actress, would you treat coming to perform in panto any different to performing a straight play?
Isobel: No, I treat it exactly the same, I still play so they believe she is real to them, they have to believe she is a fairy otherwise they are not going to buy in to it at all, so I do try to keep that in mind with every show I do.
Q: You have worked with some of the cast before haven’t you?
Isobel: That’s right some of us worked together last year in High Wycombe, for Peter Pan, so we have a mix this year with half new and half from last year. But we always have to go in new and ready to do it differently, as we could have a different director, or if someone new is playing Peter Pan, I’m going to act differently with them so it’s always good to go in open for first rehearsal.
Q: You have worked with Craig before playing Hook, has he ever given you any judge’s statements?
Isobel: Yes he has played Hook before and luckily I think Craig is a lot less cutting in panto (she says laughing) so no funny comments, and I get to do a really great scene with Craig which has changed so much over the years so I’m looking forward to do that again as it is one of my favorites. Craig is wonderful and brilliant to work with.
Interviews by Bonnie Britain
The Swashbuckling family pantomime adventure
Churchill Theatre, Bromley
High Street, Bromley, BR1 1HA
Box Office: 020 3285 6000
Friday 9th December 2016 to Saturday 7th January 2017