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I don’t do anything. I get up in the morning at 10
ohn Barrowman reassures me that
his is ‘massive’, and accompanies this
o’clock, if I’m lucky I’ll go to the gym. I’ll have a
statement with a smile that burns the
steam or a sauna just to get my voice and my head
room. Okay, I semi-expected this kind of
going. Then I’ll come back, go to the theatre, have a
thing, but it takes me. I crumble. “You’ve gone red
sandwich, do a show, fi nish the show, have dinner,
haven’t you?” he asks. I look to his mother who
fi nish dinner, go back to theatre and do a second
sits next to him and try to think of a witty reply,
show. And that’s what I do for a month. It’s relent-
but instead respond with a godawful joke: “I’m
less, it’s tough. But the thing that’s the payoff is the
sorry, it must be the sun.” Luckily, it makes him
screams and the shouts when I go onto the stage as
laugh. Oh, and he was referring to the size of his
Robin Hood. People say it’s about the pay cheque,
pantomime by the way…
but it’s not. It’s about hearing the satisfaction from
Earlier that day, said sun (yes, it was a rare, sun-
the audience that have paid their hard-earned
ny Welsh day) scorches down on Cardiff Castle as
money to see the show.”
we watch John Barrowman pulling poses for the
Sitting with the managers of his fan site before
cameras. It’s not long before a group of school
meeting him, they talk to me about how closely
kids have spotted the star and run over. He
they work with John, and about how much he
launches off his horse and gives them the time of
cares about his fans. And the fans seem to mean
day, posing once more for cameras. It’s not just
everything to John.
coincidence that he happens to be straddling a
‘It means a hell of a lot. Because it’s those people
horse and dressed as Robin Hood. That’s right,
that are the reason I have this life that I have
ladies and gentleman: his panto Robin Hood is
always dreamed about. They know that I’ll be bend-
coming to Cardiff.
ing over backwards for them in a show. And I’m
“Well, I don’t know if it’s been done for a long
the fi rst one to tell them if something is wrong. For
time,” he says of the story as I sit opposite him in
example, my pants ripped during a concert and we
the depths of the castle. “In fact, I don’t think it’s
were fi lming it for a DVD. I told the audience what
been done since the 60s. I think. If I am incorrect,
had happened, went offstage, came back, made
then I apologise.
a joke about it and
It’s a great panto “I don’t know what I’m ever
started again.’
because it’s got
And it’s this bending
action, romance
going to do next. Such as, I
over backwards for
and ice-skating.
don’t know what I’m going to
an audience that
Because, you know,
makes Barrowman
all of a sudden,
have for dinner tonight.”
such a perfect panto-
it gets cold and
mime addition. After
there’s an ice rink in the middle of Sherwood
all, with pantomime having a reputation for plenti-
Forest. That’s why this story lends itself to a
ful ad-libbing, who better to be in the hands of?
good pantomime. It’s got a fantasy element to it.”
“This is where it’s weird,” he says. “If the audience
For those wondering if they missed something in
is quiet, there’s not much ad-libbing. The more
Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves, no, there wasn’t
involved the audience is, the more ad-libbing they
a deleted scene where Kevin Costner went all Tor-
get. We as performers add little bits and bobs. But
vill and Dean. “We’ve got magic too,” Barrowman
it never takes away from the show. Ad-libbing is
continues. “At one point there are 24-inch spike
fi ne, but if it’s at the expense of the audience, and
columns that fall and go right through me. But I
they don’t know what’s going on, then don’t do
miraculously disappear and appear somewhere
it. I’ll go off on a tangent but I always come back.
else in the theatre.” And with regards to Robin
It’s liberating because it’s real. I think that’s why
Hood’s relevance in the 21st century, Barrowman
people come to the pantos I’m involved in. Because
says: “Well, what better time to be doing a panto
they know I don’t follow the given rules. It’s excit-
about stealing from the rich and giving to the
ing for me to do that, and I hope exciting for them,
poor? It’s like stealing the MPs’ money and giving
because you just don’t know what I’ll do next, what
it back to the public. My philosophy is if you’re
will make me talk about something else. It’s like
a millionaire, get your own cleaner. If you’re a
life, and that’s why I live my theatrical life onstage
millionaire, buy your own iPod. The rest of us buy
as I live my normal life. I never set anything. I
them; so should they.”
mean, I know my schedule, but, for example, I
After coming to our attention in Doctor Who and
don’t know what I’m ever going to do next. Such
Torchwood, Barrowman has endeared himself to
as I don’t know what I’m going to have for dinner
the public and media. And, to be fair, although his
talent, good looks and charisma have helped him
Actually, he was having chicken that night, but you
secure this position, he’d also done his fair share
get the point. And from talking to him you realise
of work before hitting the screens as Captain
that this is kind of where his charisma lies – in his
Jack. Most notoriously starring in Shark Attack
ability to live the life he wants to lead. And it’s this
3: Megalodon – a surefi re hit for anyone looking
that prompts him to say and do the things he does.
for their fi x of bad creature features. So with such
So John Barrowman is the perfect panto actor; just
a varied repertoire of TV and stage work behind
don’t go expecting anything run-of-the-mill. And,
him, how does it compare?
if you do go, you may leave having seen something
“I see it as all the same, really. Being Captain Jack
is very physical: a lot of running about, a lot of
gruelling hours. And panto is the same, because
Robin Hood starring John Barrowman, New
my life, when I do pantomime, revolves around
Theatre, Cardiff. Sat 12 Dec-Sun 24 Jan. Info:
pantomime. I don’t go out, I don’t see friends,
029 2087 8889 /
december2009.indd 7 27/11/09 17:26:56
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