Preparing for Panto

Sunday morning and to my delight the clocks have gone back an hour and so without realising I’m ready for action much earlier than normal. First and most importantly kettle’s on for coffee to kick start my day, then it’s boot camp at my local gym.

It’s funny in school I was never an active child and would avoid team sports as much as possible.  Especially true of rugby although my all-time career highlight must be stepping out at the Millennium Stadium with the Welsh Rugby team singing Bread of Heaven. So proud I achieved that!!  And now I really do enjoy my exercise. It seems to be the only time when I get a chance to clear my head and not think about anything other than breathing and staying alive as I’m no natural.

It’s also on gym days that I get a chance to meet others. Most people think that being a performer would mean being around others all the time. That might well be true some of the time but for me a lot of my preparation time is spent alone. I must say I’m not a fan of that as I really need people to feel happy.

So today’s boot camp started with a lot of running but within minutes it all turned to panto. One of the ladies announced that one of the members would be appearing this year at the New Theatre in Aladdin. Most of the gym members have no idea what I do and so initially this meant nothing but when my name was announced the excitement grew and so did the number of people who wished to see my panto debut as the Emperor.  

I have performed in some pretty big concerts around the word, opera performances with the best in their field and a major blockbuster movie but PANTO seems to be getting more excitement than anything else ……… oh no it’s not !!! oh yes it is.

I know as a nation we love the tradition of the Panto but I’m really overwhelmed by the congratulations and wonderful remarks I’m getting wherever I seem to go. In fact so much enthusiasm that there seems to have been a bus booked today from the gym for a panto trip……. and I can tell you that I duet with the other Carmarthen boy Mike Doyle playing  Widow Twankie. He’s my woman.

Another long standing tradition for the festival period is the Italian panettone. This afternoon I was invited to my local Italian to sample this artisan cake. The Loison family have been making panettone since 1938 and are regarded as the finest in their field. So with a few glasses of prosecco (as I’m told that this is the only drink to accompany a panettone not a cuppa like I have done in the past) I sampled some very mouth-watering Italian delights and placed my order. So all in all a very delightful Sunday what will Monday hold. Learning a panto script at the very least.

This article was originally published in the Carmarthen Journal in Mark’s weekly column for the paper.

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