From Salieri’s world to panto in Southsea!

Jack Edwards comes hot-foot to panto at Southsea’s Kings Theatre this Christmas after enjoying a summer stint as Salieri’s cook in Amadeus at Chichester Festival Theatre.

Portchester-based Jack is looking forward to one of his more convenient Christmases – a happy follow-up to his first stage play.

As he says, his background is musical theatre. Amadeus in Chichester gave him an exciting challenge.

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“I love it, and it was the first show in the new theatre (following the refurbishment and rebuild). I loved the venue before, but after that, it was just incredible, with the dressing rooms, the green room and the garden. It’s really different. It just looked stunning. The lovely thing about Chichester is that they really think about the actors. A lot of theatres think that if it all looks alright out the front, then they don’t really have to worry about the actors, but Chichester was great.”

And it was great too to be working with Rupert Everett, who played Salieri.

“Rupert is the most adorable man. He is very kind. He is very generous, but very in the moment. Rehearsals were very tense. He had a lot of lines to learn. He never left the stage. He nearly lost his voice. They took him to the doctors to try to get him some medication, and fortunately it worked. I think we rehearsed for five to six weeks, and I think we only played about three weeks. For him to do all that work, he just didn’t want to miss a show – and he didn’t. He is a real trooper, and it just starts at the top. If you have got good principal actors that commit to the show, it all filters down to everybody else. It was a real ensemble piece, and that was really good.”

This Christmas, however, Jack transfers to effectively his home stage, at Portsmouth.

“I think this is my 13th panto, but I have had a break from panto. I haven’t done one for six years. I have been working at Christmas in musicals. I have had a big gap. I am quite nervous about it, thinking do I still know how to do it. But if you are in a funny role and you are getting the laughs or you are in a baddie role and you are getting the boos, then I suppose you are getting it right.”

This year he’s playing Abanazar in Aladdin (December 9-January 4): “I don’t normally do the baddie. I usually do the ugly sister. That’s my niche. The great thing about playing the ugly sister is that you get the best of both worlds. You get the boos and you get the laughter. But Abanazar is going to be exciting. It’s not something I have done before, and it’s great to be in my home town.

“I am still involved with the Portsmouth players. I am the vice-chairman and also the production secretary. I still work with the booking of shows. As much as I can, I still try to be involved with them. My wife choreographs for them, and I just like to think that I can give something back to them. I don’t necessarily perform with them all the time, but I try to remain part of it.”

In fact he hadn’t appeared on stage with the Portsmouth Players for about seven years until this October when he was drafted into their production of Sister Act at just a couple of weeks’ notice: “Someone dropped out, and I had to take over.”

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