Monday, 9 November 2015

Guide 2 Bath Interview

Thanks Vivienne for making sense of my ramblings...  

Vivienne Kennedy interviews Nick Wilton who will be starring as Dame Trott in Jack and the Beanstalk at Theatre Royal Bath this Christmas.

In a few weeks time CBeebies presenter 
Katy Ashworth and professional charmer Nigel Havers will be making their way to Bath where they will star in the Theatre Royal’s pantomime Jack and the Beanstalk. 
They will be joined by panto favourite 
Jon Monie, who this year plays Simple Simon, and by Nick Wilton, who will be donning frocks and heels as Dame Trott. 
Recently I caught up with Nick during a press call at Bailbrook House Hotel for a chat about life as a pantomime dame.

You’re no stranger to the frocks and heels of a pantomime dame, having been playing the role since the turn of the century, which sounds so long ago...
Yes, such a shame I didn’t start a year earlier, so that I could have seen the new millennium in really, but I couldn’t get a “Dame” before that.
It took about three years to get one. I decided when I was 40 that I wanted to do it. I’d done a couple of pantomimes playing the comic when I was younger and doing kids telly, I did one in 1987 and the other in 1991, then in 2000, having seen a few programmes about Dames... I always like those TV programmes about “the business”...I thought “ooh, that really ties in with what I do”; I was doing lots of comedy sketches at the time. It seemed like a role that would really allow me to do all the things I like doing.
I started asking people if I they’d let me be Dame but I couldn’t find anyone, they all wanted someone who’d done it before. I was in Salisbury doing the farce See How They Run, asked there, and they said yes, I could do it. That was Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood, in Salisbury, in 2000.

Has it been every year since or have you had some breaks?
Yes, every year since.

Is this your first time in Bath?
No, I’ve been to Bath a couple of times. I think the first time was in 1988 when I was in a farce with Brian Rix, Dry Rot, and then I think I’ve done a couple of other plays since – I was here as Samuel Pepys in a wig and there was something else, but I can’t remember what it was...another farce probably, Run For Your Wife.
This is my first Bath pantomime though because of course Chris Harris was always here...

Big footsteps to follow in...
Indeed. I did do my first pantomime with Chris though, so he has been my inspiration. I loved his clowning. I’m not a clown like him but we do have a similar style, very much a man in a dress.

Have you seen this year’s dresses?
They’re all mine. I’ve built up quite a wardrobe over the years.
There is one more I might buy; I’m going up to London on Tuesday to have a look at a possible finale costume. 
It’s easier in a way. When I started they were made for me, but as I’ve started working with different producers they do expect you to have a few of your own and the collection’s just built up over the years. I suppose I’ve got 15 or 16 now and I use about 10 in each show.
I tend to use the same 10 to be honest and I haven’t got any Aladdin ones...if I get in to Aladdin anywhere I have to beg, steal or borrow because I haven’t got anything Chinese themed, but I can normally get away with that.

Do you have a favourite?
There’s a very nice daisy one, which I got online from a person that I then found out runs the Music Hall Guild of Great Britain, which restores the graves of all the old stars. They just got Dan Leno’s, who was one of the great Dames; they’ve got the responsibility for looking after his grave...anyway, for some reason, this man made costumes too and this particular one is a short little dress with a Bo Peep hat.  I probably will be wearing that. It normally gets a laugh.

The Dame is quite a full on role...quite physical...10 costume changes alone are going to be quite tiring...
Yes, you’re either on stage or changing. Sometimes I think I quite like the beginning of the pantomime, because you do come on quite late, normally 10 or 15 or even 20 minutes into the show, but after that, yes, it’s full on.
The Dame didn’t used to have so many costume changes but it’s gradually become part of the tradition.
My costumes are very much character costumes, they’re not gags in their own know what I mean? I don’t come on dressed as an ice-cream cone or a box of fries.

How do you prepare? Do you have a fitness regime that you follow through the year?
Not really. Considering the size and shape I am, I’ve got quite a lot of energy!
I am trying to do a bit of cycling at the moment. If I’m at home and I need to go to the shops, I go by bike, and one of them’s up quite a big hill!

What are you looking forward to about spending Christmas in Bath?
Oh, just being here, I love Bath.
I found a nice place to have coffee, just near the theatre, yesterday, so I was pleased about that.
I haven’t been here for a few years, so it has changed a lot. It’s lovely though, it always has a nice ambience, and I do love the Pump Rooms. My wife’s coming down with me so I’m sure we will have a tea at some point. It's such a nice city to walk around.

When it comes to January will it be a relief to lose the heels, or will you miss them?
It normally is. Although I love doing it, it’s quite nice when January comes. We normally go on holiday, somewhere hot. I always figure we’ve earned it. 

Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me this afternoon and I hope you have a lot of fun during your stay in Bath and enjoy your holiday afterwards.

 Jack and the Beanstalk opens with an evening performance on Thursday 10 December and runs until Sunday 10 January. 
There are no shows on Monday 14 and Friday 18 December and the cast are also given Christmas Day and New Year’s Day off. 
For the rest of the run there will be two performances each day, with the exception of New Year’s Eve when there is only a matinee.
For further information, including ticket prices, and to book online, visit

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