Hywel Dowsell will be your dame in Horsham’s pantomime this year, Jack and the Beanstalk, which runs until Sunday, December 31.
It’s a role he has slipped into very easily.
“I am relatively new to playing the dame, I suppose, but I absolutely love doing it.
“This year is my third dame. Last year I was dame in Weston super Mare and the year before I was dame in Maidstone.
“My agent got me in for a meeting about playing an ugly sister, and they were casting for both Peter Pan and Cinderella. I thought maybe they would give me the chance to work off someone else as an ugly sister, but they actually offered me dame in Peter Pan, and it was an absolutely-fantastic experience.
“I just loved it, but I really love pantomime anyway. I think it is fantastic that you have got this thing every year that the whole family can come and see. I am a big fan of Christmas, and if you do pantomime you can make it last so much longer! Pantomime is so much fun, so different to the kinds of roles I am usually playing. I am usually doing either musical theatre or Shakespeare.
“There are a lot of fantastic dames out there. You can go back to Arthur Askey, and you can think of all the great dames that we have had, but I think that all of them are linked by the one thing, and that is that the best dames are all very mumsy and kind-hearted. She needs to be warm and loving. She can be quite foolish sometimes, but the warm and loving is the really important thing.”
And that has got to be at the heart of the character.
As Hywel says, sometimes the script will be very specific giving you very specific lines to say; other scripts might simply say “business”, which is when the actor gets to do his own thing. But whatever the approach, mumsiness remains key to being a top dame.
“But sometimes things can change. If you make a mistake one night and everyone laughs, then if everyone else in the cast is OK with it, you might make that same mistake the next night. It is just all about having fun. In a way, panto is where actors get to let their hair down. Obviously, you have got to keep to the story and you have got to keep the storyline going, but around that, you can have a really great time.
Hywel trained at The Guildford School of Acting.
His other theatre includes: Mack & Mable (Hackney Empire), Candide (Cadogan Hall), Teihutu in Honeymoon In Vegas (London Palladium), Josiah Guest in My Land’s Shore (Ye Olde Rose and Crown Theatre), Dame in Beauty & The Beast (Parkwood Theatres), Hank in LMTO’s State Fair (Cadogan Hall), Dame in Peter Pan (Parkwood Theatres), Snug in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (UK and overseas tour), Augustus Gloop in Willy Wonka the Musical (Centrepoint Theatre, Dubai), The Genie in Aladdin (Middle Eastern Tour), The Porter/Seyton in Macbeth (UK and overseas tour), Berlin The Musical (Bloomsbury Theatre, London), The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (Workshop), The Sleeper (The Coal Exchange, Cardiff, WNYO) and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (Wales Millennium Centre, WNYO).
Tickets for Jack and The Beanstalk are on sale from The Capitol on 01403 750220.
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