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Panto

ROYLE IS BACK AT THE GRAND

Playing the role of Louis La Plonk, this year will be Royle’s 16th year in pantomime at Blackpool’s Grand. Royle has supported both Peter Kay and Dave Spikey on tour and was voted ‘Entertainer of the Year’ at the Red Rose Awards. We caught up with Steve Royle for a quick Q&A ahead of this year’s Christmas show…

Q: After so many Pantomimes at The Grand Theatre, what is it that keeps you coming back to Blackpool and what would you say has been the best moment of them all?

Steve Royle: Apart from the financial demands of a wife and 3 daughters who force me to work hard, it has to be the love of the Grand Theatre that draws me back. I’ve travelled the length and breadth of the UK and have yet to discover a more beautiful theatre. I have always had a love of History (in fact, I have a degree in Economic and Social History from the University of Kent at Canterbury don’t you know?) and the Grand Theatre has such an interesting past. I used to visit the theatre and marvel at its architecture never dreaming that one day I would be part of the buildings history myself.

I have had so many memorable moments both on and off the stage that it’s hard to choose one. However, here are a couple of highlights: I remember sitting in a locked cupboard for over an hour with Tom Lister ready to jump out at other Panto cast members on a “Ghost Tour” of the building. It was also a huge privilege to be presented with my Honorary Friends of the Grand membership whilst on stage in Snow White a couple of years ago.

Q: Beauty and The Beast is brand-new, we’re guessing you have some very special all new tricks up your sleeve?

Steve Royle: My tricks are never “up my sleeve” they are there for all to see! It’s always a challenge to create new gags every year and I get inspiration from the most unlikely sources. My middle Daughter got a Hoverboard for her birthday recently so I wouldn’t be surprised if I make an appearance juggling on one of those at some point in the future? I can also sense one or two jokes as to “which one is the Beast and which one is Beauty?” popping into my head.

Q: You’re well known for a bit of improvisation on stage, what’s the funniest off script prank you’ve ever pulled in a Pantomime?

Steve Royle: Ha Ha! When we did “Cinderella” with Danny Miller I used to try and catch him out every night. One night I decided to thank him for giving me a ticket to the Ball by doing an improvised Contemporary Dance piece. It got such a laugh that I kept it in and it was written in to the “Cinderella” last year too.

Also, much of last year’s Ballet Dance routine was improvised. The original routine was 5 minutes long and by the end was well over 10 minutes as I added new bits every night!

The whole of the song sheet at the end is improvised of course, and I could write a book on the crazy kids we’ve had up on stage.

Q: If you could pick 5 people in the world (dead or alive) to act out a panto, who would you pick?

Steve Royle: There are 5 people in my immediate family and we act out a Panto every day!

If I had to choose I’d say firstly Dan Leno as Dame. He was a music Hall act in the late 19th and early 20th Century and famous for his Pantomime performances, particularly for introducing the character Mother Goose. I’m about to star in a play in the Lytham festival all about his life and it’s quite tragic really as he died at just 43 from a Brain Tumour. It would be great to meet and learn from the great master though as there is no video or film footage of his act at all.

Secondly, Donald Trump as the villain. It would be great to finally watch him get his comeuppance and I’d derive great pleasure in throwing a few custard pies in his direction.

Thirdly, the Princess or leading lady would have to be Kylie Minogue. She’s a good all-rounder Actress, Dancer and Singer (no other reason at all!!)

Fourthly, my Wife as the Fairy Godmother (Just to make sure Kylie didn’t try to take advantage of me!)

And finally, Charlie Chaplin as my side kick. His ability to write comedy routines was exceptional plus he’s always silent so wouldn’t annoy me too much between shows.

Q:What’s Christmas Day like in the Royle household

Steve Royle: It usually consists of getting up early opening presents then going back to bed because I’m ill. It’s a rare day off during the Panto season and my body usually takes that as a sign to pack in for the day. I’m never too ill to eat though, and love my Christmas dinner. I’m only skinny but I can eat and eat and eat. Particularly love sprouts mixed with roast chestnuts and crispy stuffing! Yum Yum!!

It inevitably ends in a fashion show as I’m ruled by women in my house. My 3 daughters will be trying on different outfits they’ve received and it’s preceded by a make-up demonstration.

Q: What 5 things could you not live without on Christmas Day?

Steve Royle: Heart, Lungs, Brain, Liver and Kidney. Sometimes we have Turkey as well!

Q: If you were creating a Christmas rock for Beauty and The Beast what flavour would you go with?

Steve Royle: It would have to be something I love (Beauty) and something I hate (Beast) so it would be Lemon Merengue and Anchovy flavoured.

Q: When does your Christmas tree go up? And are you an outside the house lights person?

Steve Royle: It’s hard to find time to do the decorations during the Panto run so I usually do it the first Sunday in December when we have the day off from rehearsals. We used to always have a real tree but last year succumbed to plastic and I’ve spent most of this year trying to get it back into its box! Impossible!

We do have lights on our house but I draw the line at illuminated statues and accessories in the Garden. There’s a time and a place for illuminations and that’s from the end of August until the start of November in Blackpool.

It’s also the most terrifying time of year when I have to climb that ladder and put the lights up. Why don’t they sell facia boards or guttering with the lights built in? In fact, if anyone wants to come on Dragons Den with the idea, let me know. Come to think of it, why don’t modern chimneys have TV aerials built in?

Q: What has been your best Christmas present ever?

Steve Royle: It’s never the best ones that stick in the mind, it’s the worst. My wife once bought me a breath tester so I knew when my breath wasn’t fresh! I got my own back, I bought her a tongue scraper for her birthday!

My Gran (God bless her) was famous for buying us second hand stuff off the market. One year I thought I was in luck when she gave me Ski socks. I said “Thanks Gran, they look nice” to which she replied, “Oh, I am glad, they never fit me properly”.

Beauty and the Beast

Friday 7 December to Sunday 6 January

The Grand is delighted to announce this year’s cast includes Danny Walters (EastEnders, Benidorm, World War and Call The Midwife) who will star as ‘The Prince (Beast)’, Hayley Kay as the beautiful ‘Fairy Bon Bon’ and Nick Wilton as ‘Polly La Plonk’ all starring alongside panto favourite the incredible Steve Royle (BBC Radio Lancashire) who will be making his 16th annual appearance starring as ‘Louis La Plonk’.

Tickets are available via our website by clicking here, or by calling our Box Office on 01253 290190