Haywards Heath-based actor and performer Jamie Bannerman is delighted to be making the short trip once again to do panto in Bognor Regis this Christmas.
Jamie was at the Regis Centre seven years ago as the Lion in The Wizard of Oz; and a couple of years ago, he was Hook in Peter Pan.
Now he is completing his Bognor hat-trick, returning this year as Abanazar in Aladdin (Tuesday, December 12-Tuesday, January 2).
He comes in the knowledge that the Regis Centre has more than established itself over the years as a great venue for all the fun and mayhem that panto provides. It’s going to be a great Christmas ahead on the Bognor stage, Jamie predicts.
“I love it here,” says Jamie. “We always get a great audience, and I always think it helps when you know the venue. We know what the audience like and we know how to play to the audience here.
“I was up in Scotland last year, and the humour is very different up there. But really, I think in Bognor they love anything. They know how to have a good time. I think they are quite easily pleased, and I am really pleased to be a baddie again this time. They really like to boo you down here!
“It’s one of the transformations I have had as I have got older! The older I get, the more I tend to play the baddie, and coming into the theatre, it’s great. If I am in a bad mood, I can just take it out on the audience! It’s great fun. You get the boos, and you have got to play up to them. It’s the pinnacle of parts. If you don’t have a baddie in the story, then you haven’t really got a story.
“You need to be scary, and you need to have that villain-esque element. I think you have also got to have that mystery side to it. And the objective is that the baddie wants to be really powerful – a bit like North Korea at the moment!”
This will be Jamie’s 15th year with Spillers pantomimes: “They have put up with me for a long, long time now. My debut was with them in Epsom.
“I think pantomime is an artform, and Spillers really understand it. If you are trying to explain pantomime to someone abroad, it’s just so hard to understand, and a lot of people just don’t get it. But Spillers do.
“When I did my first pantomime, I wasn’t so sure really. I did them as a kid, but when you are doing it as an adult, you have got to teach yourself, you have got to learn how to bounce off an audience, you have got to learn how to cope by trying different things, and that’s where it is great to be working with (director) Bev again. It has been Bev that has directed me for many years, and he is great for having ideas and sharing them, amazing ideas, but you can also suggest things, and it is great to have a director like that.
“You do get some directors that want to stick absolutely to the script and everything has got to be all military, and I don’t think that works with pantomime. It is good to be able to go off script and to react to the audience.”
As for Christmas, Jamie has got his Bognor accommodation all sorted – even though Haywards Heath is only about an hour away by car: “I wouldn’t want to trust to the roads or trains or public transport. In my 15 years, I have never missed a performance in my life, and I am quite proud of that!”
Aladdin is at the Regis Centre, Bognor from Tuesday, December 12-Tuesday, January 2. Tickets are available from alexandratheatre.co.uk or 01243 861010.