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Terry Wills and Joe Pasquale

The last time Joe Pasquale was in panto at Birmingham - "the best theatre in the country" - he broke box office records. This winter he'll be back in Sleeping Beauty, and as he tells Terry Wills, he can' wait.

TW: “Good to be back in Birmingham for another Panto Joe?

JP: “It’s a bit early to be talking about Panto in June but I love Pantomime and I love coming back to Birmingham. The Hippodrome holds lots of memories for me.

I won New Faces in 1987 with Marti Caine, finished second in the final, appeared in the Royal Variety, did ‘Up the Jungle,' my first Panto, did the ‘Producers’ and with it’s great stage, for me the Hippodrome is the best theatre in the country. And whenever anything good career wise has happened it’s always been associated with the Hippodrome so I just love coming back here”

“Is 'Up The Jungle' behind you now?
“That was five years ago I’ve put it behind me now it’s all part of a learning experience. It was just another gig but I enjoyed it a lot”

“ The 3D special effects in ‘Sleeping Beauty’, have you seen them yet?
“No I haven’t seen them but I know we have rain curtains on stage and I fly high over the audience, over the balcony, and through the roof at the top of the theatre which was put in for ‘Mary Poppins’ two years ago”

“You’re doing that (!) No- fear of heights?”
“Not at the moment but when I get up there I’ll let you know!”

“ Do you have a preference as to what you work on in your career?”
“No! as long as I’m working that’s the main goal. What I really like is being able to do a game show, then a Panto, or some voice over work, a play or a Musical. I never get bored. It’s not like getting up in a morning to do a proper job! I’m all right really!”

In fact I’ve just come back from Argentina where I did a celebrity version of ‘Total Wipeout’

“Panto is an entirely different discipline. Do you find it easy to ad lib?”
“Yes it’s easy for me, it’s what I’ve been doing for 20 years. When you’re in Panto it’s easy to ad lib, but if some people can’t cope I just have to stick to the script.
Some people can, some can’t!

In a show like the Producers you’ve got to stick to the script but in a Panto it’s what people expect me to do and what they’ve paid their money for”

“You have a very distinctive voice….
I don’t know! To me I’ve had this voice for 48 years so I don’t really notice it.
To me it’s not distinctive. I’ve heard it more than anyone else, although I dare say it is! “

“You did the Muppet Show - how did this come about?
“Yes I did the 25th Anniversary Show. I knew the Producer and the Director who I’d met during the Royal Variety Show.

He phoned me one day from Hollywood and said the Muppet Show producers had seen your tapes and wanted me to do the show.

At first I thought they were winding me up, but no, so I said great. Who’ll be on the show with me? Oh a couple of locals, I thought that’s all right, great.

Of course knowing Hollywood when I got over there the locals just happened to be John Voight, Brooke Shields and a bloke called Paul Williams who wrote a lot of stuff for the Carpenters!

John Voight was a normal bloke. A little uneasy at the start, we had a curry, got along fine and it was great”

“When you first started in show business did you ever think you’d be entertaining in front of millions whether in the theatre on TV or DVD’s?
“No to me at the end of the day it’s just a job like any other, but it’s a job I love doing, entertaining people. Every single performance on a stage to me is the same. People pay their money to see a show up to the end of it’s run.

Everyone gets tired at times but I maintain they’re entitled to see your best performance so I try to keep it fresh, something different to keep them interested at every performance”

“Ad libbing must help you do that”
“Yes it does. There are several different ways to do it. Some people get a bit lazy –I’m not one of those people”

“It really is a different discipline isn’t it”?
“Yes Pantomime IS a completely different discipline to anything else but I love it”

“Do you get more nervous when on tour, or performing in your own production or…
“No it’s exactly the same whatever it is, I wouldn’t even say it’s nervous, it’s more apprehension. It’s a positive apprehension. I’m not worried if it doesn’t work. I’m positive. I love the challenge, I have to find a way to make it work that’s the way I look at it”

“There must be times when you feel you’re not up to it. Two shows a day, seven days a week do you ever feel, as you said, if doing a ‘proper job. “I’ll have a day off like other people? Or is it a case of saying the ‘show must go on?
“That’s the part of being a professional. It’s no good being a Doctor or a Brain surgeon and saying I don’t want to do this.That’s the difference!”

“Were you head hunted for this one show or was this the one option?
“I was signed by Qdos (the company contracted to do the show) for three years at Southend, Dartford and Birmingham so for me it was a done deal”

“Do you prefer live theatre to TV?
“I like a mix, doing them both, but I’d get bored doing telly all the time”

“So when you’re on with Paul O’Grady that’s completely ad libbed is it?
Yes it is. It’s live, it’s just flying by the seat of your pants again!


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