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Panto Time

This year’s panto at the Gaiety Theatre is “Puss in Boots & The Three Musketeers”.

It is being brought to the stage by the same team, Dreamstar IOM Productions, that have delighted local families in Christmas's past with the likes of Cinderella and Peter Pan. 

We caught up with David Artus, one third of Dreamstar, to find out more.

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Puss in Boots & The Three Musketeers! It sounds a fab mixture and presumably double the fun?

Well that's the idea yes, like most Panto's Puss in Boots is a fairy tale that happens to be over a hundred years old, however the original story has been somewhat over-shadowed by the Dreamworks film of the same name. We would not wish to copy the story of the film because this is Panto after all, however, we wanted to make our story original so we decided to throw in the Three Musketeers for good measure and of course make it Manx. So yes it's like a 2 for 1 deal in Shoprite really. Not only that, but the price of tickets has been getting higher in the last few years and we don't think that is fair. Our ticket prices are the same as 2010 so we hope that everyone can come along and enjoy the world of Panto.

This is the Sixth panto for Dreamstar IOM.  Other than this one, of course, do you have a favourite production and does any one particular moment stick in mind?

Favourite so far was Cinderella, I like to think our Panto's get better each time and Cinders was the last one, but as a writer Cinderella is designed for Panto the story lends itself to comedy, we had a brilliant time. You ask which moment sticks out and I would have to go back to our first Panto - Dick Whittington in 2003. It was my first attempt at writing a script, and Sonia (Callin), Gary (Chatel) and myself we were all very nervous. I was playing Dick and all was going well with many nights pre-sold out. But with 3 days to opening night our Dame (Chris Caine) broke his leg, we actually thought about cancelling but as they say the "show must go on", I swapped roles and played Dame and the cat (Tina Fielding) stepped in to play my part - luckily gender isn't an obstacle in Panto land! …the whole episode was absolutely petrifying! ...but we got though it, the audience loved the show, and after that nothing has ever been a problem.  

I imagine it must be lots of fun bringing together a panto but I'm guessing there is also a lot of hard work that goes into it?

David ArtusThis year we have a talking cauldron, flying witch, flying Fairy, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang car and a giant ogre! So the short answer is yes. You would not believe the amount of people we rely on to make the show happen, the kids start rehearsing in the summer, we always have about 50/70 children in 2 groups. Scenery, props, costumes the list goes on. We are a totally Manx company and have the luxury of a good name in local circles, which means people generally want to work with us, professional-standard actors, dancers, musicians, backstage etc. Apart from specialists for sound and flying we don't use any UK people, but we get a lot of local help and we are very grateful for that. Manx to the Max!

David, are you personally featuring in this panto this time or sticking behind this scenes like you did in this summer's hit production of The Full Monty?

The only Panto I decided not to be in to date was Peter Pan 2009, this was because the show was very technical and I felt I had to be out front, if I had to choose my least favourite show I'd have to point at that one, the show was a fantastic success but once the curtain opened I was spare part, and I hated it. Same with Full Monty this summer, loved the show and got a lot of pleasure from the process of directing, but not being out on stage just felt wrong for me. So the answer is yes Im in this one, I'm playing Puss (which is not the biggest part before you accuse me of narcissism)…this means I get to wear a full lycra suit and dance about on stage - yeh, but the down side is that I don't get to shout at the actors about not knowing their lines.. being word perfect myself!

And what about your future plans?

We finish on the 3rd January and on the 4th January I start on Sister Act for the DCU.  I have about 3 weeks to learn the part of the gangster (played by Harvey Keitel).. its a relatively small part, but there's a lot to be said for turning up and only having to worry about your own performance, can't wait!

"Puss in Boots and the Three Musketeers" is on at The Gaiety Theatre from the 20th December 2014 till the 3rd January 2015.  Contact the Box Office on 600555 or via www.villagaiety.com.