FAMILY MATTERS: Damian ditches the dame - and several costume changes - to take up Buttons role

Damian Williams as Buttons in Cinderella iat the Lyceum Theatre, 2012/13
Damian Williams as Buttons in Cinderella iat the Lyceum Theatre, 2012/13
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OVER the past five years Damian Williams, pictured right, has become a show-stealing Christmas fixture in Sheffield as the Lyceum pantomime dame renowned for his slapstick antics and outrageous ad-libbing.

The former TV host of Are You Smarter Than A 10-Year-Old is back again in Cinderella but won’t be in drag for he is bringing his comic antics to the part of Cinders’ sidekick, Buttons.

You might have expected him to be one of the Ugly Sisters but he says he didn’t want to play one because they are baddies: “I love to be everyone’s mate, you couldn’t do that as an Ugly Sister.

“I haven’t done Buttons before but I will do what I always do, take the mickey out of everyone on stage. I’m looking forward to it. It’s a great script and there’s some great comedy.”

He points out that Buttons is invariably played by a comedian, with Norman Wisdom, Des O’Connor, Brian Conley among the memorable ones.

“One other great thing is I don’t have to keep changing costume every time I come off stage,” he reflects. “I think there are three changes as opposed to about 12 as the Dame.”

The Evolution panto is a good show with some special effects, he says, especially a spectacular ending to Act 1. “I saw it in Canterbury last year after we finished here and was really impressed. But we always have to try and top it from the previous year.”

From that production come Kate Quinnell in the title role and Dinnerladies’ Sue Devaney as the Good Fairy. Joining them in Sheffield will be children’s favourite Ben Faulks (CBeebies’ Mr Bloom) and singer Jonathan Ansell, founder member of pop-opera boy band G4.

Cinderella opens tomorrow. Tickets £10-£23. Box office: 0114 249 6000 or www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk