The one and only Chesney Hawkes is back in the old country this Christmas for panto in Worthing.
Singer Chesney will be charming audiences of all ages when he plays the handsome Prince in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at the Pavilion Theatre (Friday, December 1 to Monday, January 1).
“I live in LA now,” says Chesney who was catapulted to fame in 1991 at the age of 19 when he played the lead in the film Buddy’s Song, a coming-of-age tale which featured a young Chesney juggling the teenage challenges of school and dating with the determination to become a world-famous pop star.
Following the film, The One and Only was released from the soundtrack and became an instant hit at home and abroad, shooting to the top of the charts in the UK and making the top ten stateside.
And it’s from the States that Cheney now travels.
“We moved out to LA five years ago. My wife is American, and she had done 17 years with me here in England, and it just felt time to try another culture and give the children access to their other side, if you see what I mean.
“It has been great. The children are thriving and are very happy. I was working out there a lot as a song-writer and producer, and so I knew a lot of people out there anyway. I had been used to travelling to LA anyway for writing and producing purposes.
“The weather is lovely, and it is great out there. We fit in quite well. And I don’t really get the chance to miss England at all because I am here a lot, sometimes every couple of weeks, to get my fill of football banter and country pubs!”
Whether LA is now home permanently, Chesney is not sure: “We are quite adventurous spirits. I don’t think LA is our final resting place. We could come back. We could stay. Or we could go somewhere else.”
For the moment, though, the focus is on Worthing: “I have already booked the family’s flights. They are coming over to visit with grandparents and then come down to Worthing to see me in the show.
“My children are all musical. They are going to want to join in the fun. My son, who is 16, became part of the ensemble last time.”
Chesney reckons this is his fifth pantomime: “My first was in Manchester at the Lowry, with Darren Day as King Rat… and also John Bishop before he was famous. He wasn’t even on the poster. He laughs now that there was another comic on the bill above him.
“I think that would have been about ten years ago.
“I hadn’t ever thought that panto would be on my horizon, but then it came up and they offered me too much money. I can be bought! I really didn’t know what to expect, but I absolutely loved it. It was just amazing to be on the stage doing panto with some great moments.
“I have done theatre in the past, musical theatre as well, but there is something about panto that I love, the fact that you can play around with it a little bit.
“There is a line, of course, and you can’t go over that line, but you can have a lot of fun playing with it. If someone forgets their lines, you can get away with it. There is lots of slapstick, and the focus is on making the children laugh, but there is also slightly more adult humour for the adults!”
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is at the Pavilion Theatre, Worthing from Friday, December 1 to Monday, January 1.
Tickets on 01903 206206 and www.worthingtheatres.co.uk.