Canal Street Online Manchester

John Barrowman interview

John Barrowman interview

John Barrowman chats to Drew Tosh about pantoland, the big 50 and falling for “Loose Women”.

Actor, writer, presenter, singer...John Barrowman has worked successfully in many areas of the entertainment industry. Come December however, it's all about pantomime for the multi-talented Scot. This festive season he's appearing in “Dick Whittington” at Manchester Opera House and the Celtic connection is strong as he's once again starring alongside the inimitable Krankies.

This is the seventh time the three of you have appeared in panto together. Are you being stalked by The Krankies?

Ha! Actually, when we first appeared together, everybody told us it would be a real mismatch but we really jelled, had a great time and became a brand which is something we didn't expect. Let's just say we've become one of the best threesomes in the country and leave it at that!

You've previously performed together in 'Jack & The Beanstalk' so I almost asked if you were being 'beanstalked' by them?

You could have said that but this year I can say that they are now being stalked by the best 'Dick' in the country!

Fun and panto go together like, well John Barrowman and The Krankies obviously, but there's no escaping the fact that it's a long old haul doing 12 shows a week through December into early January? 

No matter how tired we are or how we feel, the one thing that makes it work for us is everytime we walk on stage and feel that wave of joy from the audience. We're being paid to have fun, connect with people, laugh and be daft and stupid. It's really the most amazing thing and there's no way you can't have fun. 

What can audiences expect from this year's panto?

All the obvious jokes and gags will be there but we hope audiences will be excited and surprised by the sheer spectacle of the show. We want it to  have big West End production values rather than just be your traditional, old fashioned panto. I guarantee you'll have a great night of entertainment and laughter and you'll leave that theatre feeling like you've had your moneys worth. I love my Manchester fanbase and I'm really looking forward to doing the show there. 

You're a panto veteran and have enjoyed great success with these shows so I'm thinking it's an entertainment format you love?

Entertainment is what this business is all about. One of the great things I've noticed over the years in panto is that some of the kids that used to come to the shows in the early days are now bringing their own kids to see it so it's become multi-generational. To me, that is the best critique you can have because these are real customers bringing their families to a show that's become a tradition for them at Christmas.

You celebrated your 50th birthday earlier this year. Was it plain sailing or did you hit the odd iceberg?

I sailed through it. My husband might disagree with me but if there were any icebergs I just smashed them and put them in a f.....g drink! It is what it is. I certainly don't feel 50 and, without trying to sound egotistical, I don't think I look it either. It's created an interesting problem in that I've gone into meetings for things like the role of Blake Carrington in the new “Dynasty” and just missed out because they said I still looked too young for it so I'll take that as a compliment!

Are you fed up seeing “Loose Women” replay that clip of you falling behind the desk over and over again? I hope you get repeat fees for it?

As a matter of fact a cheque goes into the mail everytime that clip plays so hallelujah! It was definitely NOT planned though and I had no idea it would go viral all round the world. I bet it's the first time those women have done that! 

You've always been open about your sexuality. Do you think being an 'out' performer is less of an issue now than it was when you started?

I think it's changed over the years and it's much easier now to be openly gay in the industry. There were some of us who took the risk early on and if it affected us in some way, c'est la vie, but there was no way I could have lied about who I was. There are still actors who have to be in the closet for whatever reason and it's not my job to out them. If there's a personal reason why you're not coming out that's your prerogative but if you're not out because think you're going to lose a job or that your career is going to suffer then you're f.....g stupid. It's detrimental to everybody else so you're best to come out.

By Drew Tosh for Canal St Online

Dick Whittington

Manchester Opera House

9 December - 7 January

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Published: 9-Nov-2017

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