If you want an idea of how ugly and forbidding Andy McGuire is going to be in pantomime in Bognor Regis, ponder the fact that his eyebrows are going to meet in the middle.
“She is Trunchbull, based on Miss Trunchbull in Matilda… and she has got a monobrow! No space between her eyebrows… It is a bit like a caterpillar across her face. No, she is not beautiful. Her sister Cruella is very glamorous but Trunchbull was definitely at the back of the queue when looks were being given out, right at the back. She missed out. In fact, I think they must have slammed the door in her face.”
The show is Cinderella (Bognor’s Regis Centre until Wednesday, January 2).
“Trunchbull will be walking with a cane, and she doesn’t really like children. She looks down her nose at them. She thinks she might pick up something from them. She is very stern. She is also quite nasty. Cruella has got a little bit in her where she likes to pretend that she is quite nice even though she isn’t, but Trunchbull is just out and out evil.”
This is probably Andy’s four or fifth panto. For the past couple of years he has played Jack in Jack and the Beanstalk. He has also played the Prince and Dandini in the past, but this time he fancied a change: “I wanted to play the dame, and the great thing is that they have gone for a lot of contrast between the two of us. It will be great fun.
“Panto is such a great world, a world where you can really get lost. You know the story of Cinderella or Snow White or whatever it is, but panto still takes you to a different world. You might think that the kids are all going to hate you, but they might just end up loving you. You just never know, and that’s a big part of the fun. That’s the wonderful thing about panto. The audience goes into it, and the kids just create their own story. It is all about the characters and we are all very different characters, and the kids just make it what they want.
“This is my first time in Bognor. I have been to Southampton and to Portsmouth before, but I have never made it across to Bognor before now, and it looks great, and I can’t believe that the theatre is in such a great situation. And the people of Bognor seem really, really lovely.
“It looks like the perfect venue for pantomime. I have done panto in big theatres that are thousand-seaters and I am not saying it gets a little bit lost, but it is really different when you are playing to 500-seaters and under because you have got such a closer connection with the audience. You build up that connection with them so much more quickly, and that’s really important. You have got to get them onside as quickly as possible. You have got to get the characters across as soon as you can so that they are completely engrossed.”