Hastings panto and the joy of getting back on stage

Andy AbrahamAndy Abraham
Andy Abraham
Barring the Covid Christmases, X Factor star Andy Abraham has done panto for the past eight years.

He's keeping up the happy tradition by playing Mr Crust the baker in this year’s family pantomime Beauty and The Beast at Hastings White Rock Theatre from December 15-31.

“It all started because I went to see Chico (who reached The X Factor quarter-finals in 2005) in Aladdin. I saw all the camaraderie on stag e and I saw the fun that they were having and I thought to myself I would like to do that. Chico was very flattered – just as he always hooks onto anything that he thinks he's the cause of!

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“And then a company got in touch with my agents and the first one I did w as at Weymouth in 2013. I jumped in at the deep end. You make some mistakes that obviously you're not supposed to but in a way that just adds humour to the whole thing and I loved it. I think the essence of a good panto is that it just has to be fun obviously but I think you've also got to appreciate the skill of the performers. You look at the comic and the dame and for me they are the most important parts of the whole thing. Then next come the Prince and Princess and the storyline and then after that come the names who bring up the rear, the people that it wasn't necessaril y something that they had done themselves when they were younger. I think it's just really important as a name that you respect the people with those panto skills.”

It’s lovely to be back in harness.

“The week before the show opens when you're techning the whole thing and everything is going a bit crazy you're thinking ‘Oh my goodness, why on earth am I doing this?’ especially when the lines are not going in but then suddenly just something clicks and everything comes together at the same time and you just have a fabulous time.”

During Covid Andy went back to “driving big lorries just to keep myself busy. Obviously it was something I've done before. I was considered the singing binman when I was on X Factor and things just went full circle. I'm very happy that I managed to do that and that I managed keep my feet on the ground but it just means that when you come back to doing this again, you are just all the happier to be doing it. You realise the situation that you've come out of and that the pandemic was really, really sad for everyone. It was very bleak and the news was very bleak every day but now it just makes you realise how fortunate you are to be doing this. I always knew that nothing lasts forever and that one day we would get back to it. I don't necessarily feel that I've been changed by it but I do think it's important to understand that whatever you are doing within the entertainment world, whether it's panto or whether it's singing, you've just got to appreciate it and it's so important also that you appreciate your audience and that you remember there was a time when just no audience was possible . It's great that things have come back.”

Book your tickets at www.whiterocktheatre.org.uk.