British Soap award-winning Eastenders actor, Scott Maslen stars as Abanazar in Aladdin, this year’s Churchill Theatre Bromley Pantomime. He will be joined by Channel 5’s Milkshake! Presenter Jen Pringle as Princess Jasmine, and back by popular demand, the legendary Bobby Crush as Widow Twankey. The cast will be joined by Hi-5 presenter, Luke Roberts in the title role of Aladdin, and British comedian and impressionist Jess Robinson as the Genie of The Ring.
Take a magical carpet ride to the Far East in this year’s pantomime spectacular. Aladdin is guaranteed to delight the whole family with its stunning sets, glittering costumes, wonderful songs and dazzling dancing that audiences have come to expect from the Churchill Theatre – topped off with laughter and audience participation aplenty! Make tickets to Aladdin one of your three wishes this Christmas and New Year.
Bonnie Britain (transcribed by Noor Samad) chatted with former EastEnders actor Scott Maslen at the launch of Bromley’s pantomime, ‘Aladdin’. Not even the bright orange of Widow Twankey’s laundry embellished skirt could steal the spotlight from Scott Maslen’s Abanazer at Bromley’s pantomime press launch. He kept photographers and cast mates laughing throughout the meet-and-greet and photocall, wasting no time in donning the character as well as the costume.
When we sat down to talk to him that afternoon, bright purple cape and towering plumage of an Abanazar turban had been swapped for casual wear and flatcap, but he was still just as captivating to talk to. The beginning of the interview started, aptly, with the beginning of his career, and how a start in modelling became a career in drama.
Scott: When I got into acting, drama school was important to me. A lot of people were saying ‘Just go out into the industry. As far as you look a certain way, there’s a big market out there and you can kind of learn on the job’. But it was very important for me that I went to school, because I didn’t want to go into acting as a model. It was [because of] my perception of what I thought other people thought about it, that it was slightly vacuous and it was based around the way you looked and it wasn’t about anything you had necessarily achieved or worked towards. It wasn’t [all] like that. I met lots of people who were very nice and down-to-earth and real people, but I did meet people who were that, and it’s an unfortunate thing, because that’s ugly. It’s the opposite of what they think they are.
So, when I made the choice to go into drama school it was because I wanted to spend enough time in a good enough school to learn the basics, to go in and actually understand that this is what it’s about. The historical way of acting, classical theatre, is what I wanted to study. I did a BA in classical theatre at the Guildhall…”
Bonnie: Never as a kid you thought you’d go out and…?
Scott: No, never. I was in the Royal Marines at 16 and that’s where I was going. But I come from a family of clowns, most of my family are jokers in some way. My mum and my dad, both sides of the family are loons, so there wasn’t much hope.
In my secondary school, they stuck me in drama because I was a gobby kid and they were like ‘what are we going to do with him?’ Sport was what I did a lot of, and they put me in plays, in the chorus and stuff. I never played any big parts, I was, like, in Oliver in the gang.
People had always said to me, ‘you’re telling stories and you’re animated, you’re funny…’ But that’s the thing with me, I am those things but the parts you play, they try and make you look like a hunk or whatever, or a bad boy. For me, when I was in drama school, you weren’t about that. I went in to drama school to get away from all of that, so it’s funny that when I came out, straight away they were like ‘Armani model’. All the things that I was trying to get away from were the first things that were spoken about.
Bonnie: What was your first job after drama school?
Scott: I went into the Open Air Theatre in Regent’s Park, it was just theatre jobs, because that’s what I trained to do. But then, I live where I live, and the rent wasn’t cheap. You speak to your agent, and predominantly, the medium is tv or film. That’s where you’re going to make money. In theatre, you get to a certain level when you can and that pretty much governed what I was doing. If I didn’t have a family, money or anything like that you make your own and you find your way. So that was the thing that motivated me. Then when my son came, that was when really the penny dropped. Right, now you’ve got a kid, where do you want to bring him up, what do you want to do, and that was it. When you have a baby, it either straightens someone out or they go the other way; you make the right choice or you make the wrong choice.
That’s pretty much been my career throughout, you just go with the flow. Whatever comes your way you just take it. You do the best you can, and one thing will lead to another that way. You don’t have luck, you make luck. Acting’s a lot about you and what you want, so it’s a selfish endeavour. As soon as you have a baby then it’s not about you, it’s about their future… life has shaped me, really.
Bonnie: Talking of choices, did you turn down the film Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels?
Scott: I didn’t turn it down – I went for it and I was offered it, but I was in my final year of drama school. So I went to an audition when you’re not really supposed to, but only because a couple of kids had been allowed to go and do other stuff. They didn’t know what Lock, Stock was going to be so they read the script and said ‘Scott, you’re playing Lopakhin in The Cherry Orchard in the final year this is the biggest part in this play and we’ve already cast it.’ I didn’t know how big the film was going to be. No one really did, and it wasn’t the film I read anyway after the edit, but that’s just the nature of the way the industry is. These things happen.
Bonnie: Have you got any memories of panto, growing up?
Scott: No, I never saw one.
Bonnie: Never? So, will you be bringing your son to panto?
Scott: My boy came… just got embarrassed. He’s at that age now, he’s 14…
Bonnie: So his first panto was one you were in?
Scott: He was 12, he was a bit like [mimicks his son’s cringing]. You’re always embarrassing to your children, no matter who you are.
Bonnie: And finally, as you’re in Aladdin and there’s a lot of talk of the musical production going into the West End, any interest in going into that?
Scott: No [laughs]. You will see someone sing a song that is singing it in the style of their character when you come and see me. I’m not a musical theatre actor. Sam Womack who I used to work with, that’s her background and she’s fantastic at it. And she’ll be laughing if she hears this because she’s constantly winding me up about it. When I do it in character I have more fun with it, because it’s them. I do it like a Disney film. I play it like Terry Thomas, who’s an old English actor, with a little bit of camp. So I’ll be singing just like that.
By Bonnie Britain and Noor Samad
Aladdin is at The Churchill Theatre Bromley
Friday 27th November to Sunday 3rd January 2015