Why Worthing's dame keeps on coming back for more

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Worthing-based Ross Muir is delighted be back in Worthing panto this Christmas where he will be our Queen Dorothia over the festive season.

The big Christmas show comes promised as Worthing’s “dreamiest panto yet” – Sleeping Beauty, running from Friday, December 1-Monday, January 1 (tickets on www.wtm.uk or 01903 206206).

Ross said: “I did it last year and this is my third year in Worthing on the trot... or fourth in a row if you include the little Christmas show that we did the year of the pandemic when everything opened up and then had to shut down again. We couldn't do the second show. But two years ago I was in Worthing in Beauty And The Beast where I played Professor Crackpot – typecasting it seems to me! And then last year I was Dame Trott in Jack and the Beanstalk.”

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And the fact is that panto in Worthing is a great thing to do “I think (the producers) PHA and Worthing Theatres put together a really good family format. And I think it just always really appeals to all ages. I saw my brother last week and he said he'd booked to go with friends. There are no children in our family anymore but I just think it appeals to all ages but I also think that Worthing Theatres have a really strong cast that they put together. I represent the acting fraternity and we have got Patrick Monahan (as the Evil Underlord) who is a really fantastic comedian and we have got Katie Pritchard (as Fairy Amethyst) who is a really good comedian but also fantastic singer and actress and a brilliant all-round musician. We've got a lot of different skills with the principals and I think that really makes a difference.”

Ross joins Worthing panto once again (contributed pic)Ross joins Worthing panto once again (contributed pic)
Ross joins Worthing panto once again (contributed pic)

Last year was Ross’ first time as dame on the Worthing professional panto stage – though it is a role he has played before in touring schools panto: “And I think the dame is really interesting. There is a distinction between a man in a dress who is obviously a man in a dress and the more drag-style of dame that you get now. You can get several different ways to do it and I think what I try do is play it more in the traditional way. I enjoy putting a bit of make-up on and I like playing it as the character which is maybe the classical actor coming out in me. I like the make-up but I like don't like to do it in a draggy kind of way. Mine is much more character based and that's the classical actor approach, actually creating a character. I'm not playing myself. I think you find that some people tend to play themselves like you might find if you had Julian Clary on stage as the dame, he would actually be playing Julian but I want to create Dame Trot as I did last year and then this one I'm creating Queen Dorothia and I just want to make them really rounded characters. In this one I am playing Sleeping Beauty’s mum and so it's a different kind of dame. The dames are usually hard-up mums trying to improve their situation but with this one you've got someone is from a much higher status and that will be different. I'm still mulling it over as to how exactly I'm going to play her but I think what you generally find is that things happen in rehearsals and things can change as you go along. But I do think that mumsy is the way to play it. I think it's really important that the young children aren’t frightened by the dame. You've got to go in there and win them over and you've got to come across as the ultimate protective character.”

Ross would be perfectly happy to carve out a niche for himself as a dame in years come: “I'm very lucky to have been invited back though I don't know if they'll offer me the dame the following year but there are other theatres where the producers do pantos so that would be nice but I do think the beauty of playing Worthing is that I live here and I know the audience.”

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