1:01 AM 4th November 2023
Robin Simpson In Conversation About Playing A Pantomime Dame
Robin Simpson is playing Dame Trott in Jack and the Beanstalk at York Theatre Royal from December 8 to January 7 he took time out of his schedule to answer a few questions
Any York or Yorkshire connections?
All New Adventures of Peter Pan
Credit Pamela Raith
I live near Huddersfield and I’ve been performing at York Theatre Royal for nearly 20 years now in all sorts of shows. My first-ever show in 2005 was Mike Kenny’s The Little Mermaid
which we performed in the studio.
After playing Ugly Sister Manky in Cinderella and Mrs Smee in All New Adventures of Peter Pan you’re scoring a Dame hat-trick in York Theatre Royal main house pantomime by playing Dame Trott – is she a traditional dame?
I hope to be. I think Jack and the Beanstalk
is one of the more traditional stories that a pantomime can be based on, being an old English folktale. This year is the first year, at York Theatre Royal (apart from the Travelling Panto in 2020) that I’m playing a traditional dame character. The sisters in Cinderella
are a different concept and Mrs. Smee was a henchman of Captain Hook’s. Dame Trott is the mother to the title character and that’s a very traditional role for the dame to play.
Are you hot to Trott?
You’d have to ask my wife.
You’ve played Dame Trott in pantomime before, how will your York Dame Trott be different?
She’ll have a different costume on. Otherwise, she’ll be very similar as I’m a one trick pony. She’ll be slightly older.
The comic, often-unscripted antics of you, Paul Hawkyard and Jonny Weldon were one of the highlights of last year’s pantomime. Why did you work so well together?
Paul and I have worked together many times and have done this year as well on a season of plays. Sometimes actors just gel. I think that the pantomimes here are cast very well indeed. Jonny was introduced into the cast last year and he was very easy to work with. He was so committed to creating the best show possible. You need to leave your ego at the door, be willing to play and not take yourself too seriously. It’s a balance between childishness and professionalism. Improvising is a really tricky thing but if you listen to your fellow actor, accept their suggestions and be willing to go with the flow you shouldn’t go wrong. It also keeps things fresh. Paul and Jonny were not afraid of that.
Favourite moment in All New Adventures of Peter Pan?
There are too many to choose. Minton the Dancing Dog! Me flying in to the James Bond theme. The rowing boat scene that went wrong…how can I choose?
You flew – well, hung about on the end of a wire - in Peter Pan. Painful or pleasurable?
Both. I loved doing that but it didn’t half chafe. Mind you, I had it easy compared to Peter Pan, Tink or Lizzie. It is. A lot of fun though.
What have you been doing since last year’s pantomime?
I did a season of plays in Eastbourne over the summer and I filmed a couple of episodes of Coronation Stree
t. I play the vet and I put Maureen Lipman’s dog to sleep. A few years ago I put Ken Barlow’s dog, Eccles, to sleep as well. Every few years they ring me up to put a dog out of its misery and make the nation cry.
How’s the storytelling side of your acting work going?
Really well, thanks. I’ve had my busiest year with regard to storytelling. I recently performed at Blenheim Palace and Sledemere House and over the summer I had a busy time with the Summer Reading Challenge in libraries all over England. I recently also performed at Bluebird Bakery in Acomb. The storytelling side of things is getting bigger all the time, which in nice.
You’ve recently been cruising – holiday or work?
Oh, work, but only just. Classic is a show I did at the Edinburgh Fringe last year and I thought that that was that. It was booked by Cunard Cruises for their Mediterranean trip. I’m on that trip right now. I’m writing this in a cafe in Barcelona! Peter Kerry and Lyndsay Williams wrote a very funny and fast paced show, racing through the greatest works of literature in one hour. It’s a crazy show but a lot of fun.