All Hayles! Ian relishing Dick Whittington roles as panto returns to Millgate Theatre

VERSATILE Ian Hayles will have as many hats as a high street milliner for this year’s Big Tiny pantomime at Delph’s Millgate Arts Centre.

So Ian just hopes he picks up the right one and wears the correct costume otherwise it could be like, well, just like pantomime!

“Let’s say, there is a fun moment at the end, I am not going to spill the beans, when I will be very busy,” chuckles Ian busily learning lines with fellow cast members for Dick Whittington opening on Saturday, December 11.

“That will be a wonderful moment, but I have lovely little ideas for all of them.”

Ian Hayles as the King in Sleeping Beauty panto 2019

If Alderman Fitzwarren, the Captain of the Saucy Sal, Arthur the Postman and the Sultan of Morocco look a little similar, you will know why.

“It’s the first time I have had to highlight a script in four or five different colours,” added Ian, back in Saddleworth after playing the King in Sleeping Beauty two years ago. “I should have asked for a fee for each of the roles.

“Anyone who knows me, knows I am not that organised. But this year I am going to have to be very organised backstage.”

The Big Tiny pantomime has become a firm favourite with Saddleworth audiences since debuting with Jack and the Beanstalk in 2018.

Last year’s production was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic and Ian admits it was a different kind of Christmas for himself and the acting profession.

“I actually had a Christmas which is unknown for me,” he explained.

“Even before becoming an actor, my mum and dad used to work in pubs.

“I didn’t know what this thing was where you sat down and looked at each other for a day and a half. So, I experienced that… and I am very glad to be back in panto this year.

“Seriously, it was desperately hard. Everybody I knew was out of work and wondering if it would come back. And it is still a worry.”

Dick Whittington will be Ian’s fifth pantomime and he loves the genre.

“There is nothing better than the energy you get from a panto audience,” he said.

“You must remember this will be the first time in a theatre for some of the audience.

“This year, it will be double that. People who would have come last year but couldn’t because of Covid will be coming this time.

“That is a privilege. This will be the first live theatre experience these audience members will have seen whether they be five or 50.”

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