BRIAN Weston - the Sultan in Aladdin at Worthing’s Pavilion Theatre this Christmas - has done around 15 pantos with producer Paul Hammond.
Aladdin (until Sunday, January 2) is his fourth in Worthing - a great panto venue. As Brian says, there aren’t many towns left in the country that can sustain two pantos over Christmas.
“I think pantos are just great fun”, he says.
“You get to see such a wide audience, from the really young to the really old who are there just to enjoy seeing their grandchildren enjoying it and are probably watching their grandchildren as much as they are watching the stage!
“And then you have got all the ages in between.”
Another big element of the fun is that you get to enjoy a very different kind of relationship with that audience than you do in more conventional theatre.
“The audience are actually part of the show, with the booing and the cheering and the laughter. They are an extra member of the cast.”
Sometimes you get really rowdy audiences in; sometimes you get really quiet ones in, where everyone has been drilled by their party leaders to keep quiet and be on their best behaviour.
Brian definitely prefers the rowdy ones. With the quieter ones, you’ve just got to work them and work them, find a few that are up for it and hope that their liveliness spreads - which you can do when you’ve got Brian’s wealth of experience.
Brian comes from Weston - though he’s quick to point out that Brian Weston isn’t a stage name he adopted because of it.
“I could claim that my ancestors used to own Weston and gambled it away, but actually there are a number of people called Weston in that area.”
Growing up, Brian loved the old steam trains and was keen to become either a train driver or join a circus.
Disappointingly he discovered that most circus performers are from long-standing circus families. And we all know what happened to the age of steam.
But fortunately he did once get close to the thrills of the circus when touring with the show Goldilocks And The Three Live Bears which featured real bears and chimpanzees - “back in the days before it became unfashionable to have live animals on stage.
“But I am a real animal lover, and I know they were wonderfully treated.
“I would have gone berserk if they were badly treated at all.”
Tickets on 01903 206206 and www.worthingtheatres.co.uk.