Ahead of Mayflower Theatre's 2023 pantomime, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, we found out what panto means to The Man in the Mirror, Christopher Biggins.
What does doing pantomime mean to you?
It means a joyous time when parents, carers, grandparents, aunties, uncles, children, nieces, nephews, and siblings all come together, to enjoy themselves, in a theatre at a pantomime. Pantomime is not only a form of entertainment, but also a breeding ground for theatre both for audiences and casts!
What are you going to be doing on Christmas Day this year?
On Christmas Eve I will most likely go and visit some friends who live just near the M25. Then on Christmas day relax at the hotel and then get ready to be back on stage on boxing day. Last year we stayed in the hotel and enjoyed ourselves enormously! It’s all about relaxing and enjoying myself really.
After your last pantomime at Mayflower Theatre in 2008, are you looking forward to returning to Southampton once again?
I'm really looking forward to it because interestingly enough, my grandparents lived in Southampton so I used to go down a lot as me and my family were in Salisbury, so I have a lot of love and affection for Southampton. I also love the feeling of being down by the ocean - a wonderful feeling. There's something rather exciting about being down there and the main stay of the whole of Southampton is Mayflower Theatre which is HUGE and although it's such a big theatre, it also has the feel of intimacy too. It's great and a wonderful theatre to play in.
Photo by Stuart Martin
What is your favourite Christmas tradition?
A very interesting question. I suppose it's giving presents. I'm rather particular about presents and I collect presents all year and I think 'Ooo that will be good' because of time, there is very little time to go out and buy things - I have to pre think. It's impossible to go shopping when you are rehearsing and performing in pantomime. I like to be really organised, which I am. And to be with Neil, my partner. We just have a lovely time.
Biggins, this is a brand new role for you, and not a dame! What can you tell us about becoming the Man in the Mirror? Will it still involve a bit of sparkle?
Ohhhh the sparkle I will be giving for the Man in the Mirror is extraordinary because I have the most wonderful costume which is all mirror so I urge the audience to wear sunglasses when they come to see the show because I am flying in and out on every entrance and I will sparkle beyond measure - I mean it is fantastic. And he's a wonderful arch sort of companion to Queen Dragonella who is played by Rachel Stanley this year who’s brilliant. He's fun and larger than life and quips galore. The only other time I have played a man in a pantomime, is Cinderella because I can't play an ugly sister because I am far too pretty and so it has to be Buttons and I've loved playing Buttons over the years. This is quite different and I'm really looking forward to it - especially the flying.
This year you get to work with the incredible Ashley Banjo and Diversity. How excited are you about this?
Well, I think Ashley Banjo and Diversity are amazing! I remember them vividly from Britain’s Got Talent and they were so fantastic. I'm really excited about working with them and I think they will be terrific. I think it's going to be a really strong pantomime this year. I think it's going to be really good and I know already bookings are excellent so I hope we will do a sellout season - it'll be wonderful!