Sheffield panto star Damian’s in his favourite show

Damian Williams (Dame) in Dick Whittington
Damian Williams (Dame) in Dick Whittington

Damian Williams is a big fan of pantomime and the star of the show at the Lyceum was really pleased to hear that he would be starring in Dick Whittington this year.

He’s playing Sarah the Cook, a role that he has performed before but not in Sheffield.

Damian said: “It’s a really good story with a lot of comedy in it. It’s always been my favourite.

“I was pleased when our director Paul Hendy said they were going to do it.

“It isn’t a Disney film like Cinderella and Peter Pan and Aladdin either.

“It’s a great show with a brand new set and new costumes so it will look spectacular.”

Damian said there are other factors that make Dick Whittington work well. “If you get good villains, they always stick in your mind. I remember Charlie Drake chucking saucepans into the audience.”

He’s played the villain a few times in pantomime himself, before moving up to the Dame role that he has made his own.

That includes wearing lots of outrageous costumes that Damian helps to design. His mum-in-law makes some of them for him.

Damian started thinking about his costumes back in the summer, including the one for his first appearance that has to make a big impression on the audience.

“Then I start talking about the other scenes and thinking how am I going to top that?” he said.

He has been looking forward to coming back to Sheffield. “It’s such a great city, particularly at Christmas, there’s such a great atmosphere.

“People love their panto. Even though it’s quite a big theatre, it’s quite intimate as well. you can feel the audience and can see them.

“People stop you in the streets and at Meadowhall. It’s really nice to see people coming back year after year.

“It’s great when you get young girls coming and saying. ‘I’ve dragged my boyfriend along’. People still think this is a children’s show until they come to see it.”

He also enjoys meeting the other actors in Anything Goes and The Princess and the Pea across Tudor Square on the Crucible main stage and Studio.

“It’s quite nice because you get to meet the other casts because we’re stuck in here every day and there’s always a nice atmosphere.

“We have a few drinks and between us we’ll organise a Christmas meal out.”

Damian’s been busy on stage this year in a different type of frock role, starring in Hairspray, which he has also toured with in the Far East.

He already knows what he’s doing next Christmas, too, as he’ll be back to star in Aladdin.

Dick Whittington also stars EastEnder Samantha Womack and Andy Day from CBeebies and runs until January 4.

Box office: at the Crucible, online at www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk or call 0114 249 6000.