Actor Colin Ridgewell is heading back to Northampton this Christmas for his fourth Panto at The Deco – and this year he is expecting to be greeted by a cacophony of booing from the audiences watching him in Peter Pan.
It is nothing personal! But after winning over a legion of fans at The Deco following his appearances as a Dame in ‘Cinderella’, ‘Snow White’ and ‘Aladdin’ over the past 18 months, he is now looking forward to being the character that everyone loves to hate in ‘Peter Pan’, which runs from December 8 to 30.
“I’m playing Captain Hook, and I want the audiences to boo me so loudly, they raise the roof,” Colin told us. “If they do that, I’ll know I’m maintaining the character’s proud reputation as one of Panto’s most hated baddies!
“Captain Hook is an iconic Panto baddie, and I was delighted when I was offered the part, and can’t wait to put my own interpretation on it,” he said. “What’s more, it’s actually the first time I’ve ever played a baddie, so for me, that makes it even more exciting.”
By nature Colin is anything but a ‘baddie’. Approachable, well-liked by cast and crew, and highly respected by those around him, Colin believes the nicest people usually make the worst baddies on stage and TV.
“I think being a ‘baddie’ just gives you the chance to behave as somebody totally alien to your normal persona,” he says. “I’ve know some of the most awful TV and stage villains, who, in real life, are such nice people – maybe it’s simply the chance to be an actor, a performer, that turns you into someone you’re not by nature!”
Colin, who first made a name for himself in the BBC's popular Grange Hill children's TV show in the 1990s, says he cannot wait to be back. "I’ve said it before, and I’ll happily say it again: I absolutely love The Deco," he said. "The audiences, the staff, the management, and the theatre itself; I love it.
"The staff treat you like family, nothing's too much trouble, it really is a pleasure to work there; and the audiences have been consistently wonderful and extremely inter-active – just how we love it.”
And not only that, Colin has a great rapport with fellow members of the cast – which he believes is an important factor in making a Panto successful.
“You can always tell when there’s no chemistry on stage, and the whole production can topple because of it,” he said. “At The Deco we’re blessed with an incredible group of amazing people who all get on extremely well – we laugh off stage together, and we certainly have great fun during performances, often at each other’s expense.”
Indeed, Colin’s funniest memory on stage was at The Deco last year, and it has made him chuckle when he thinks about it ever since. “It was during ‘Snow White’ last Christmas - I was playing a Dame, and during the show; indeed, during a scene that I was in, one of my boobs popped!
“I carried on as though nothing had happened, but Nick Cochrane – who’s back this year again, which is brilliant – was having none of it, and had a field day; his reaction was hilarious, and the audience loved it,” said Colin.
“Nick is a genuinely very funny guy, on stage and off it, and with him directing this Christmas’s Panto you can take it from me there’ll be no shortage of laughter.”
Colin and the cast will be appearing in Peter Pan from December 8 to 30. Tickets can be bought online at www.thedeco.co.uk, by calling The Box Office on 01604 491005, or by popping by to The Deco on Abington Square, Northampton