Nicole Faraday will be the villainous Carabosse in Sleeping Beauty, the panto this year at Horsham’s Capitol (December 14-January 6).
“Maybe it is because I have got evil eyebrows!”, she laughs. “I can move them!”
More likely it’s the fact that she has enjoyed a long line of baddie roles on TV. In Bad Girls she would look at the script and discover that she was going to try to blow the prison up. In other shows, she would be the one trying to take someone hostage.
“I have been doing pantos since I was really young. I grew up in Swanage in Dorset, and I would be doing whatever parts I could. I was Princess Lotus Blossom in panto when I was 12, but since I have grown up and been doing it professionally, I am usually the baddie – and it is great.
“I have been lucky enough to do an equal mix of theatre and musical theatre and television. I do all the different disciplines, but when you become known as a baddie on television, those are the parts you tend to get. It is just the way the business works. But it is always good fun. You are evil, but in panto you are catering for children and so your evil has got to be funny evil. And I always get at least one big, belty song to sing. And the evil roles are lovely roles to play.”
Panto is hard work, though: “It is knackering. The kind of big, belty song that I tend to sing is usually technically quite challenging, and you have got to be up and ready for it at 10.30 in the morning having done it the night before as well. Luckily in Horsham we are only doing two shows a day. Sometimes when you are doing three shows a day you can come off stage and get the call that in half an hour you are starting again. Plus the whole thing is usually very physical, and usually there are dance routines – and the costumes can be so hot. I am going to have to be laced into mine.
“But I just love doing it. It just wouldn’t be Christmas without it. I wouldn’t want to spend Christmas doing anything else. We always put a Christmas tree in the dressing room, and there is always such a Christmas spirit in the cast. We all compete with Christmas jumpers, and we do secret Santas. I have done panto nearly every year, and the odd year that I have not done it, I have just really missed it.”
And she loves too the very Englishness of it: “I have got lots of foreign friends and you tell them what you are doing in the year and then you say that you are doing pantomime, and they don’t know what you are talking about. It is a very alien concept for them. But I just love the fact that it is so traditional for us.
“And for a lot of regional theatres, it is often their biggest box office of the year and is just really important to them. Everyone in the theatre, especially when they are doing their panto in-house, just gets so involved in making the whole thing a big success.”
Call 01403 750220.
Click here to watch our video interviews with the other Capitol panto stars.