The great in-house pantomime tradition continues this year at Horsham’s Capitol, with venue general manager Nick Mowat once again directing a show he has co-written.
This year the show is Sleeping Beauty, running at the Capitol from December 14 to January 6.
It is his sixth pantomime at the venue since taking over five and a half years ago.
“I have done in-house shows at various venues around the country over a number of years, and I think it just really works because it means that you can make the show fit the cast and vice versa and also properly fit the venue.
“It is not something you can do so much when you are part of a big production company doing lots of different pantomimes in different places, and I don’t mean to be disrespectful to the big companies in saying that. But it just means that we can really make this pantomime for Horsham. You can make it right for the venue and for the audiences.
“We are very fortunate here. Often when you have got 400 seats, the size of the stage can be compromised, but we are lucky. And we have got good facilities here. The council has invested very well in the lighting and sound equipment, but the great joy with a 400-seater is that there is not a bad seat in the house wherever you are sitting.”
As for the audience: “I think the key is that for pantomime, everyone becomes a child, and that is as true in Horsham as it is for all other parts of the country, but I would say that in Horsham we have got quite a sophisticated audience, particularly with the children.
“Everybody likes the traditional panto gags, and I think with pantomime you have always got to have certain landing points, like in Cinderella you have always got to have the scene in the kitchen where the different parts of the coach come together. You will always get an audience coming along expecting those sorts of elements always to be there, but between those moments you will always have a bit more freedom.
“But in the five I have done here so far, I think it is really important that you always remember that it is about the story. You have got to deliver a decent story. You can have great songs and great choreography, but you must not forget the story that drives the whole thing forward. That’s the really important thing.”
And in that respect, Nick is proud to say that Horsham’s is a very traditional pantomime.
“You need to have a different story each year. There are about five or six big ones that you can do and that is fine if you are repeating them after five or six years. A five-year-old child would now be ten and would see it from a different perspective. But when you are doing it, you have always got to do it with your audience in mind and make sure that you are producing good-quality entertainment and make sure that you are not doing it for you in terms of the show you choose, but you are choosing it in terms of the people that are going to be coming to watch it.”
Tickets for Sleeping Beauty cost £22.50-£23.50. Family tickets and other discounts are available. Call 01403 750220.