OUTRAGEOUS panto Dame Damian Williams might well have to carry out his much threatened clear-out of old costumes after his current run in Sleeping Beauty.
The Lyceum favourite who has helped put thousands of bums on seats during this and previous festive periods in Sheffield is already signed up to return next year – but as Buttons in Cinderella.
The announcement that he’s ditching his outlandish frocks for once is made in the back of the programme for Sleeping Beauty, in which he puts in a laugh out loud shift as Nurse Nellie.
“I need to get my act together and sort the loft out and go ‘right, these are the ones I’m keeping, these are the ones I’m getting rid of’, because some of them don’t make any sense now,” says Damian.
“I’ve got dresses like the Ginger Spice one with the Union Jacks; things like that you can’t do any more, you need to get rid of.”
While little more is being said yet about Damian’s drastic shift in roles in Sheffield panto he’s glad to be back at Sheffield in a new show.
“Last year was the first time I did Peter Pan and this year is the first time I’ve done Sleeping Beauty, the two I’d never done. No dwarves, just fairies; evil fairies and good fairies.
“Evolution Pantomimes and the Lyceum care so much how it looks. They are quite spectacular shows and they work really well on their comedy, which works for me.
“They get all the ingredients right and it is good for the families to come, there’s something for everybody.”
So where panto used to be a chore for parents who felt duty-bound to take the kids along, now adults are engaged with cleverly engineered jokes they get but kids don’t.
“Panto went through a really bad stage at one point in the ’80s when it was just full of acts. They used to just come on and do their act and it didn’t make any sense. But it’s got to be for all the family and you’ve got to chuck stuff out there for the adults that goes over the kids’ heads because then they keep coming back.
“I always try to be on the adults’ side. I’m part of the audience really. And they love their panto here, it’s a nice atmosphere in the building.
“You get loads of people waiting at the stage door with their programme. Even when I go shopping in the day or at Meadowhall people stop me and are complimentary about it.
“They seem to book it as soon as it goes on sale. People who were leaving Peter Pan last time were trying to book Sleeping Beauty. I’ll keep coming back as long as they ask me.”
That said, working over Christmas has always been a bit of a wrench for Damian, who has 13-year-old twins living in Essex. “You have a morning show and afternoon Christmas Eve, then I’ll go back so I’ll have Christmas Day at home,” he explains.
“Then we’ll leave early in the morning on Boxing Day and we’ll all arrive here and I’ll do two Boxing Day shows and they stay until New Year. It’s better for them because they get more of a Christmas.”
Sleeping Beauty continues until January 8.