Strictly star Brendan Cole promises panto safety in Hastings

Brendan Cole, Robin Hood in Hastings panto this year, is stressing all the safety measures the venue is putting in place.

Hastings White Rock panto 2021
Hastings White Rock panto 2021

He says there has been a lot of “scare-mongering” around.

His point is that the White Rock Theatre is doing absolutely everything it can to make sure you are safe during its panto run (Wednes-day, December 15-Friday, December 31).

“The last panto I did was 2019 and I have really missed being on stage.

“I just love the thrill of it and panto’s such fun to do right the way from rehearsals to getting the show up and ready to actually performing it. I have done five pantos in all. During my Strictly years it wasn’t possible to do them but since Strictly I’ve been able to go back to it.

“And panto is such a great thing to do that crosses over from serious acting into absolute carnage and chaos and stupidity. For somebody like me who is not a proper actor and singer I know that I can afford a muffed line or a missed line and the audience just love it. That is what makes it such fun.

“It’s a really funny script and it is seeming to go very well. We have had a couple of nights out together which makes the bonding experience even better. We’ve got a good relationship with each other off stage and I think that that will carry over into on-stage.”

So, there will be plenty of fun. But Brendan admits to anger too – at the “vile” way his profession has been treated during the pandemic.

“The industry has had a very hard time and I think it is so important to get back on stage now.

“We have got all the measures for people’s safety. It has been a vile time and there is still horrible uncertainty but the industry has been so ridiculously treated. In the theatre we are trying to sell tickets and we need to be able to plan ahead but that is difficult with the government dilly-dallying and changing what is happening. I think it has been disgusting for the industry.

“I think we’re all angry about it, about the uncertainty.

“And I do think it is reasonable to expect certainty. This is something that we have all got to live with rather than dodging things all the time. I just hope that people will come out and support our pantos up and down the land.

“I don’t think that people will have confidence entirely, but I do think there is a lot of scaremongering going on. I just hope that people realise that theatres are putting a lot of measures in place.

“We want to entertain people and we want to fill the theatres with laughter. We should be celebrating Christmas and we should be celebrating the arts and we should be celebrating the theatres. And we should be celebrating those people who have spent a lifetime training and performing.

“This has been absolutely catastrophic for the arts. From the day I left school when I was 15 or 16 I have worked constantly. I have never had more than a month or two out of work.

“I have always strived to have the energy to find the next job and to entertain. And I have been very fortunate in my career but to have had the last two years when somebody has told us that we can’t do what we want to do has just been vile.

“And now we just want to fill the theatres.

“That’s my message – that we have got all the measures in place to make you safe, that if you want to come out as a family and have a great time, this panto is going to be fantastic!”