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Cbeebies Star Chris Jarvis Talks Panto

By Jake Guastella

Good news for parents coming to our Richmond Theatre pantomime this Christmas: children's TV favourite Chris Jarvis will be on hand to entertain the little ones, playing the role of friendly jester Muddles in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

Chris Jarvis stars in Snow White at Richmond Theatre - ATGWe're very excited that the CBeebies presenter is returning to our stage, having first performed with us in our 1996 panto, Aladdin. We sat down with the popular performer to ask a few questions:

What are your memories of starring in Aladdin at Richmond Theatre in 1996?

The opportunity to perform at one of the country's leading panto venues was incredible. It's such a beautiful theatre. I was in a wonderful cast with Bernard Cribbins and Bonnie Langford who I've remained good friends with ever since. My television programme Old Jack's Boat is all about a fisherman who's also a storyteller, and it all came from working here in Richmond and chatting to Bernard about his love of fishing! So I have lots of happy memories of the show. I just remember it being a very special, lovely year with lots of wonderful people.

What was your first panto experience?

I think the first pantomime I ever saw was Aladdin, as I can remember a strange man in a turban, a pair of frightful dames and a huge explosion! I was absolutely hypnotised by it. It encapsulated everything that I loved - singing, dancing, comedy, acting, storytelling, working with children and interacting with an audience. It's the whole package.

The most wonderful thing about panto is it's at Christmas time, and everyone is in a fabulous mood. It's an all-round joyful experience.

How is working on television different to starring in panto?

The biggest difference is the interaction. There's no audience in the television studio. When I work on pantomime I really get a chance to connect face-to-face. One of the great things about Richmond Theatre as an actor is that you can see every single member of the audience. There aren't many venues in the country where you can communicate with everyone. And that's perfect for pantomime.

Are you looking forward to performing alongside Jerry Hall?

I'm very excited to be working with Jerry. She's a real A-lister. She's got everything it takes to star in panto. Playing the Wicked Queen is a marvellous vehicle for her and I'm sure she's going to have a lot of fun with it.

Have pantomimes changed since you first started working on them?

They keep improving every year I think. With First Family Entertainment, you know you're going to get big shows with amazing lighting, sets and costumes, as well as star names like Henry Winkler or Jerry Hall. Yet despite this, one of the great things is that they've remained traditional. It's just a perfect chance for the family to watch something all together. Whether you're a grandparent or a child, there's something to enjoy for everyone. I can't wait to start rehearsing with Jerry and our wonderful cast.

Snow White Richmond Theatre cast  - ATG Blog
The Snow White Cast. Clockwise from left to right: Chris Jarvis, Shaun Dalton, Aimie Atkinson, Jerry Hall, Phil Holden and Paddy Holden

Chris Jarvis stars in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at Richmond Theatre from Fri 5 Dec 2014 - Sun 11 Jan 2015.