Allan Jay brings plenty of panto experience to the role of Jack Trott in Jack and the Beanstalk at Worthing’s Connaught Theatre.
“I have worked for various other panto companies, and I did panto when I was young. I think professionally, this must be about my ninth – and I just love the atmosphere.
“It’s great at Christmas. As a performer and singer and dancer, there are lots of nice things that you can do at Christmas, but panto has got that lovely family feel and you really know it’s Christmas!
“Usually I play the leads, Jack or Aladdin or Prince Charming, but this is my fourth year in a row of playing Jack. I think Jack is one of the best of all the characters. Generally you have got the dame who is funny, the king who is funny, but with the character of Jack you have got the true story, if you know what I mean.
“Jack and his love interest keep the story going. We sing the songs. The rest is comedy and light-heartedness all around us, and the others speak directly to the audience, but we are the ones that actually keep the story moving. In the past few years, we have been trying to play it quite true. Everyone else is trying to make the audience laugh, but we have been playing it quite real. You have got so much other bonkers stuff going on around you and hissing and booing that you have got to have someone who moves it all along.”
And given the success this year of the Jack the Giant Slayer film, this year Jack comes with an added measure of heroism thrown in.
“It all comes down to the direction, and the producers have got very good directors and choreographers, but you do need the balance. You do need someone to play the slightly-more realistic characters. And you have got to have the element of the hero who saves the day.”
Originally from Glasgow, Allan moved to London in 2001 after completing his diploma in musical theatre at Motherwell College – and it was back in Scotland that he learnt to love panto.
“Pantos are massive in Scotland. They run for a lot longer. The pantos usually start mid-November, end of November and run right through until the end of January. It’s a much longer run. I would love to do it up there, but I live in London now. You need to be in London. That’s where all the auditions are. I trained in musical theatre, and London is where you have to be.”
It’s also a good place from which to launch his musical career. He brought out a single earlier this year.
“I signed to Energise Records at the end of last year. There are an independent record label that have been around for 20 years, and I have got my first dance track single. It’s a dance remix with my vocals which came out in September.
“The deal was a two-single deal with a view to an album. It depends how the single goes. You have just got to get it out there. A lot of that is down to the producers and the label. They specialise in remixes. That’s what they are geared to, but you have just got to get it out and get people to hear it. I have got various events to promote it.”
Jack and the Beanstalk will be at Worthing’s Connaught Theatre until January 4. Tickets on 01903 206206 or www.worthingtheatres.co.uk.