St Helen’s Theatre Royal: An Interview with Lewis Devine as ‘Peter Pan’
Lewis Devine is playing what appears to be his most perfect role to date as a “big kid” playing “the boy who never grew up”, this Christmas!
You live in St Helen’s pantos, what have you done before?
Oh absolutely, I live in panto world! I love them! I started with St Helen’s last Christmas when we did ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ and the cast we had there was really amazing, everyone got on like a big family. After that they asked me to come back and do ‘Buttons’ in ‘Cinderella’ – that was at Easter – then I have ‘Beauty and the Beast’ in November and then straight into this!
What keeps you coming back?
I play the comedy role a lot and the audiences at St Helen’s are unbelievable. It’s the Northern humour and people coming from out of town to come and see the pantos there because they put so much energy into it and they really are great pantos. It’s just a nice place to work – from the crew to the theatre, the show – it’s a great atmosphere and as soon as you hear that laughter from the audience it’s electric! It really is amazing and that’s why they can’t get rid of me! I keep coming back!
What is your best panto moment?
I loved when I played ‘Buttons’ at Easter with Georgina, who played ‘Cinderella’. We had this lovely moment though on stage when we sang ‘That’s What Friends Are For’. I always remember that.
I really enjoyed my first panto though too, ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ and the songs! The song sheets are always great! Or when you get the kids on stage at the end, I think in pantomime that’s the best moment, making them feel like a star. They make it so easy and the kids are always better than you – they say the funniest things so naturally!
What drew you to this part?
I originally got offered the part of ‘Smee’ and I got it in my head that I was doing that part, but I then got a call and they said, “We’ve really had a long hard think and we’d love you to play this part [of Peter Pan], would you have a think about it?” and I did think about it and thought that it would be a challenge and it’s good to have a new challenge. If you can make him a cheeky chappy, why wouldn’t you want to play ‘Peter Pan’?!
If you had a fairy godmother, what would your one wish be?
To be in the next panto!
What’s your favourite thing about Christmas?
I’m a big kid! I love Christmas! I know that seems strange because you never get a minute [when you’re in panto] and last year we did nearly 70 shows because we got it extended, but you do get in the Christmas Spirit because you’re with everyone else at the theatre. Christmas Eve we always do a Secret Santa and have a laugh and a joke, and there’s always a mince pie backstage so that helps! Panto is Christmas, so I’m very lucky!
What’s your favourite line in panto?
I think my favourite line said to me (or said to Buttons!) was in ‘Cinderella’ when she tries to explain to Buttons that she loves him and he gets really excited, but then realises she only loves him like a friend. The line I said after it was, “Well, we can still make it work, we’re not too far from Earlestown and it’s acceptable there!” that always got a big laugh! Or when I do an impression because I always like to throw an impression in, like John Bishop *starts an a very impressive rendition of John Bishop*! He always gets a little mention somewhere!
How do you intend to capture the magic alive with Peter Pan?
There’s going to be a lot of flying and that’s magic in itself! It’ll be a challenge for me! I’ve just found that out as well! It’s going to be magical for the kids to see that. There’s a big 3D scene as well and that’ll be magical. The kids always go wild for that and it’s just electric again!
Photo Credits: David Munn Photography