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Back to Christmas

Muddy meets Gok Wan

The fabulous fashionista comes to Woking this festive season to tread the board in Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. Muddy caught up to chat flying (yes, he flies), funny rituals and a fancy new TV show.

Vocal chords at the ready folks, because pantos are back for 2021. After the year that shall not be named, it’s all systems go on sequin-spangled costumes and heckling audiences, and time to see some of our small screen favourites tread the boards…

And this year, that includes How to Look Good Naked and fashion legend Gok Wan, who will shortly be strutting the stage of the New Victoria Theatre in Woking as the Man in the Mirror.

With Snow White and the Seven Dwarves set to light up the New Victoria Theatre from Sat 4 Dec until Sun 2 Jan, Muddy caught up with Gok to peep behind the panto curtain.

Gok Wan as the Man in the Mirror in Snow White Panto, Woking

So Gok, frocks, fashion, food – and Panto… how did this come about?

I’ve dreamt of being on stage forever.  I first began to think about Panto some years back.  I was fascinated.  Then one evening, maybe 2012 or 2013, I was with Lionel Blair and the very naughty Louie Spence. They said I really should give it a try. I spoke with my agent and Channel Four also got involved. I first met Snow White then.  There have been other pantos since then but it’s really great to be back with Snow White.

You play The Man in the Mirror – tell us more.

Man in the mirror? It sounds like a piece of furniture! I’m not and it isn’t!  The script is amazing. The tradition has again been tweaked for the twenty-twenties and I’m excited. The mirror has messages. The mirror motivates. The mirror is magic.

Let’s talk costumes – you must have lots to say about the wardrobe?

Do I have an opinion?  Oh yes I do!  I like it. I was encouraged from the start to contribute input, although the designer anticipated so much that my suggestions could be called incidental. There’s a vital aspect though and one I insist on.  An aspect that’s seen and unseen – the fit!  My costume has to fit and over the Christmas period that could mean adjustments. It’s gotta be done.

Do you have any pre-show dressing room rituals?

Hah!  And not only in the dressing room!  Yes, I’m superstitious and my rituals – as you call them – go on throughout the performance; I don’t leave them to lurk alone in the dressing room. What can I tell you?  Ahh, there’s ‘first on stage.’  Of course there is going to be stage crew but I like to be the first cast member on stage before a performance. What else?  There are others. This year in Snow White I am required to fly and when I’m up high, without fail, I whisper a hello to my Mum. I love the flying bit. Love it, love it.

Okay… I wanna know all your secrets. But first let’s start with the secret to a brilliant panto?

There are three ‘secrets’:  the first is definitely the audience; the second is likely to be the audience and the third, in my experience, is probably the audience.  I like to open the show, to greet and welcome everyone and I can predict within 20 seconds just what sort of evening it will be. People have probably had tensions at work, frustrations with traffic, delays or hold-ups – it’s important to me that everyone feels wanted.

Right then, Woking? Been before?

I don’t think so…. but the multi-story looked familiar.  And I suspect I’ll get to know it better. I’ll enjoy Woking.  My home’s London and so I’ll probably commute. I like town and city life. The hustle, the bustle, the noise, the rush, the dirt, the energy, the sweat, the crowds. I am absolutely a town ‘n city boy.  I was brought up and lived over a restaurant so it’s what I am used to.

Tell us about Bling, your new telly show.

I’ve just finished filming. I believe you can expect, and get, a lot from the series. It’s daytime and about jewellery which can mean so much more than ‘an accessory’ – so often there is special significance attached to a piece. The series sparkles with stories, memories and emotion, as well as amazing technical skills, evaluations and explanations.  It is fascinating. I learned a lot.

And lastly, what’s your favourite thing about a panto?

I’m still learning about pantomime but I knew from the start my favourite part is the audience.  They are the headline act – no-one is bigger than tonight’s audience.

Gok Wan will be joined on stage by TV sitcom and comedy star Harriet Thorpe, comedian Aaron James and stage star Rebekah Lowings.

Snow White and The Seven Dwarves is on from Sat 4 Dec until Sun 2 Jan. Tickets are from £13. Book here.

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