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Peter Pan at the Epstein will have you hooked

One is ready to put the Pan in to ‘panto’ and the other hopes the audience will be well and truly hooked.

Lewis Pryor plays the eponymous Peter Pan and Another Level singer Dane Bowers dons the wig and hook to play his piratical nemesis in the Epstein Theatre’s Christmas show.

Prepare to go on an adventure with the boy who never grew up, along with Wendy, John, Michael, Tinkerbell, Tiger Lily and of course, the dastardly Captain Hook.

Not forgetting a certain tick-tocking croc.

As usual, LHK Productions is behind the panto - oh yes it is, and Michael Chapman multi-tasks as writer, director and the wickedest Dame in pantoland.

I caught up with both Lewis and Dane to find out more.

How did you get involved in this production of Peter Pan?

Lewis: “I got a phonecall from Lee (Kelly – producer) saying they were auditioning for Peter Pan and he’d like to see me. I came in and there were loads of other guys auditioning as well. I had to sing an up-tempo song and a ballad and read a little bit of script and then I got a phonecall and was told I’d got it. And here we are now!

“I actually did Peter Pan when I was younger. I played Slightly the Lost Boy. And now I’m Peter. Next time it will be Hook! And the I’ll be the Dame...”

The cast of Peter Pan. Credit: David Munn

Are you aware of just how naughty the Epstein panto can be?

Dane: “To be fair there were quite a few good innuendos in my last panto. I think our later shows are going to get better and better, because the ad libbing makes it for me, that’s what I enjoy, being able to work out how to make fun of each other on stage so it’s funny for us but also for everybody else.”

Lewis: “Michael always says ‘if I were to see it I’d want something I could enjoy as well’. He likes to make it enjoyable for the adults. Because a lot of the time people might be thinking, oh I’ll take the kids to the panto just to keep them occupied for a few hours.

“But then when we speak to them afterwards they say they’re surprised how much they enjoyed it, how much content there was for them that they could understand but that went over the kids’ heads.”

Were you taken to panto as a child?

Lewis: “The first panto I went to go and see was at the Empire with Mr T in it. I’ll be honest, I can’t even remember it. My mum always says: ‘I took you to go and see Mr T’. And then I remember seeing Pamela Anderson, who came down in a bubble and said about four lines and then disappeared!”

Dane: “Yeah, I went to panto. There was a great theatre called Fairfield Halls in Croydon, and it was huge, it was a very big production

“I just think it’s very Christmassy, it gets kids away from the computer. It’s great that panto is still such a big thing.”

Dane – you studied acting before you became a singer. If things had been different could that have been the path you followed?

“Maybe. I’ve gone in different directions in general. I mean, I wanted to be a lawyer, I went to private schools all the way through my childhood and I was very academic.

“But I didn’t get on at private schools, they were a bit too regimented for me, and I got expelled. It was silly things really. I’ve been expelled twice. I was 10 or 11 and I moved my headmaster’s car on to a football pitch. So that was an expellable thing I think."

Are there any other performers in the family?

Dane: "My grandad was a singer, he sang with Nat King Cole. He won Opportunity Knocks twice. My family are Cuban/Jamaican origin, so my grandad was in a very big calypso band in Jamaica. He had records out and stuff. He was a proper old soul crooner.”

What’s Christmas normally like for you?

Dane: “It depends. Last year it was in Dubai, so that wasn’t very Christmassy at all. But in general, I’ve got a very big family, and I end up cooking Christmas dinner for at least 12 of us, and it’s great. I’m one for family Christmases, I want to play games, I want to watch a Christmas movie.”

Lewis: Christmas has always been really family orientated. There are a lot of things the family get up to that I miss out on, but I wouldn’t have it any other way because, especially with Michael, we share a dressing room, and we’re like family now.

“We spend every Christmas together. This is the norm for me now.”

Lewis Pryor in Aladdin in 2016

Lewis – you were at the centre of a bit of drama last Christmas weren’t you?

“I collapsed. The night before, I was staying with Jordan (Davies) and we got food and I remember going to bed, and you know when you get a cold sweat? I was sick through the night. I’d been feeling a bit off during the day.

“I woke up with a sore throat and went and got this spray that somebody recommended to me. And when I sprayed it, I felt like my body was vibrating.

“I was lying on the couch and we had three shows, it was about 9.30am, I was getting ready for my 10am show and I just said I don’t feel good, I don’t think I’m going to be able to do this. Someone tried to help me up, but my legs weren’t working.”

Peter Pan is at the Epstein Theatre from December 8 to January 7. Tickets from the website HERE

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