Gok’s tips for a successful panto

IS THERE a secret to a successful pantomime? Gok Wan, the star of the seasonal show at Woking this year, thinks there are three.

“The first is definitely the audience,” he smirks. “The second is likely to be the audience and the third, in my experience, is probably… the audience!

Gok Wan as the Man in the Mirror in the Woking panto with Aaron James, Harriet Thorpe and Rebekah Lowings

“I like to open the show, to greet and welcome everyone and I can predict within 20 seconds just what sort of performance 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.”

Style icon and TV presenter Gok is playing the Man in the Mirror in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at Woking’s New Victoria Theatre. “The Man in the Mirror? It sounds like a piece of furniture! I’m not and it isn’t!” he says of his role.

“The script is amazing. The tradition has again been tweaked for the 2020s and I’m excited. The mirror has messages. The mirror motivates. The mirror is magic.”

Gok Wan in all his panto glory as the Man in the Mirror

Talking of magic, Gok also admits to being superstitious when it comes to appearing on stage night after night.

“Yes, I’m superstitious and my rituals – as you call them – go on throughout the performance,” he reveals. “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.”

Of course, panto doesn’t last for ever (sadly) and Gok is already looking forward to fronting a new TV series in 2022.

“I’ve just finished filming,” he says. “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 his favourite part of the panto season so far? You guessed it.

“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 stars at the New Victoria Theatre until Sunday 2 January.

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