Dozens of performances await, but there is just something about panto that keeps Keith Jack coming back for more.
He even insists there’s something relaxing about the whole thing.
Keith will be Prince Charming in Horsham’s festive treat at the Capitol this year, Cinderella which runs from Thursday, December 11-Sunday, January 4.
“I just love it,” says Keith, who came to fame when he was runner-up to Lee Mead in the BBC reality talent show Any Dream Will Do in 2007. “I have done four or five pantos now, and it’s just a great way to spend Christmas. There is such a buzz around the place; everyone is getting very excited waiting for Santa Claus to come; and the whole thing is a good laugh.
“I haven’t been with my family for the past couple of Christmases, but I just love being on stage. And there is a bit more of a relaxed feeling about panto than there is to doing a straight concert or whatever.”
And no, he’s not deterred by the hard work. As he says, with his long stint as Joseph in Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat, he was well used to doing ten shows a week.
Keith was brought up on panto: “The first panto I ever saw was the Krankies in Glasgow. I must have been about five or six, and we used to go every year. I just loved it.”
And it’s that experience which helps him understand what’s really important when it comes to getting a panto right.
“I think it is the story that really drives a panto. You have got to have the story characters to keep it all going, to keep the plot turning over all the way through.”
Of course, a certain number of characters are essentially comedy characters, which is fine, but at the same time, you’ve got to have a certain number of characters to drive the show forwards.
Keith cites a performer who once told him that you should never let a good gag ruin a panto.
“You have got to get the belief. You get little girls coming up to the stage door afterwards saying ‘Look! It’s Cinderella!’ They really believe it’s Cinderella. That’s the magic of it all, and there is nothing better.”
Keith inevitably brings a little bit of Keith to the role of Prince Charming. There will be a few allusions to his illustrious past as Joseph.
“And I am Scottish as well,” he says – not that you could really miss it. “And I am known for being Scottish, so I will be a Scottish prince, not an English one!”
The production also stars Olly Pike (Wiley Sneak in CBBC’s Trapped) as Dandini plus a cast of seasoned professionals including Zoe Adkin in the title role, Dot and Babs – The Wugly Sisters and comic actors Mike Goble as Buttons and Richard Alan as Baron Hardup.