Sammy Webb, who will be playing one of the two Ugly Sisters in ‘Cinderella’ this December, is not only one of the stars of our Panto, he is also the boss! Sammy is directing the show, too. And The Deco could not have a better person at the helm: if anyone knows what makes good Panto, it is Sammy – a Panto fanatic, be it as a performer, director, or a member of the audience.
Indeed, Sammy’s love of Panto, and his expertise, is such that he is soon to start a PhD in Pantomime! And if that is not enough to prove beyond doubt his enthusiasm, two years ago he launched the annual British Pantomime Awards, which proved to be an instant success.
“I absolutely love Panto, and always have done,” said Sammy, who lives in Northamptonshire, and runs the Brackley Youth Theatre. “It’s why I co-founded the Great British Pantomime awards in 2016, which honours and rewards the best Pantos and performers from all over the country.
“Theatre has its Olivier awards, film has the BAFTAs, so why shouldn’t Panto have its own glamourous, and much deserved, awards night,” he said. “Since we launched it two years ago, it’s been really successful, and this year, for instance, we’ll have over 25 judges watching well more than a hundred shows all over the country.
“Among the awards given out, are for Best Panto, Best Comic, Best Double Act, Best Fairy, Best Baddie, Best Script, Best Special Effects.”
And Sammy is delighted to be working with The Deco for this year’s Christmas Panto. “The Deco’s reputation for top quality Panto snowballs year on year, and I’m absolutely delighted to be involved in ‘Cinderella’,” he said.
“We’ve got a fantastic cast of very talented performers, and everyone is so lovely to be around, not just the actors, but the team behind the scene; there’s a fantastic chemistry throughout the production, and that can only be good for making great Panto.
“It’s my first Panto at The Deco, so that’s really exciting,” he said. “I’ve directed a few Pantos before but since moving to Northamptonshire a few years ago; I was asked if I’d be interested in directing ‘Cinderella’ at The Deco, and I jumped at the chance, and the opportunity to be in it too!”
So as an expert in Panto, what makes a good show?
“For me personally, I love the relationship between audience and performer,” said Sammy. “I love the freedom of interaction with the audience during the show; the off-the-cuff laughs that you can have.
“One thing I picked up quickly was the camaraderie, the banter, and respect among the cast, and with the team behind the scenes, which is something I know is important to The Deco, and though it’s been said before, I totally agree that if the audience see you all having fun together on stage, and enjoying it as much as they are, then you’re on to a winner.”
And Sammy’s favourite memory of Panto? “I loved the late, great John Inman in Panto, the ultimate Panto Dame over many years until his death in 2007. He was awesome!
“But there have been, and are, many other amazing performers who do exactly what Panto should do: provide fantastic family entertainment, engage the audience, have fun while they’re doing it, and make great memories.
“If that’s what we can achieve at The Deco this December, then no one will be happier than me; and I’ve absolutely no reason to doubt that ‘Cinderella’ is going to be yet another Deco winner!”
For tickets for Cinderella at The Deco: www.thedeco.co.uk, or call the Box Office on 01604 491005. Alternatively, call in at The Deco, on Abington Square, between 10am and 4pm, Monday to Saturday.
For more information about the Panto Awards, visit the website: https://www.pantomimeawards.co.uk/
For more information about Brackley Youth Theatre: https://www.facebook.com/BrackleyYouthTheatre/
For tickets for Cinderella, go to https://www.theoldsavoy.co.uk/event/cinderella/, call the Box Office on 01604 491005, or call in at The Deco, in Abington Square, Northampton, Monday-Saturday, 10am-4pm.