Former “Coronation Street” actor Eric Potts will be directing and appearing as Mrs Crumble in Darlington Hippodrome’s “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”. What’s On Darlington caught up with Eric at the official pantomime launch.
Is this your first visit to Darlington? If so, what are your first impressions?
I have toured to the old Civic many times where I used to do some of the summer seasons of plays. We used to have them with the Ian Dickens company but I haven’t been for a couple of years. The last time I was here I was playing Les Dawson in a stage play called “Cissie and Ada” about his characters with Roy Barraclough, which was great.
I arrived last night and I stayed overnight and I went for a little wander. I thought the town was looking really good. I was walking round the old market hall and it’s looking really nice. It looked great.
You’ll have plenty of chances to explore over Christmas.
Exactly. Yeah, this is it. I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve always liked the theatre so I’m excited to see inside it. I haven’t seen inside since the refurb but yeah, I think it’s going to be great.
You’re obviously a regular on the pantomime scene. What do you love most about it?
I love the tradition of pantomime. It’s a real history and it’s an honour to be a part of that. I love the fact that it introduces a lot of children to theatre for the first time and hopefully creates that enthusiasm to go again, to go regularly, to go each year and hopefully some stuff in between. We just introduce kids to this magical experience that doesn’t involve a console or pressing a button or sitting in front of the telly for two hours playing games or whatever. It’s something new that is actually something very very old.
You’re playing Mrs Crumble in this year’s pantomime. How would you say you are similar to your character?
By remarkable coincidence, she’s a bit overweight so that’s covered. I think she’s down to Earth, she’s a bit homely, she’s a bit friendly, which I like to think I am. I don’t know if my daughters would always agree but that’s what I think. We’re just good fun and have a positive outlook.
Like you were saying, the Darlington Hippodrome has been newly refurbished. What does it mean to you to be performing at such an extraordinary venue at such an iconic time in its history?
It’s an absolute honour. I can’t believe I’m doing it, it’s brilliant. Every time I’ve been to what was the old Civic in the past, I’ve had a great time. The shows have always been so well supported, so well received and to be part of the first panto back after it’s had such an incredible restoration is a real joy. I’m really looking forward to it.
You’re working alongside a solid cast (Lee Ryan, Patrick Monahan, Zoe Birkett). It’s a real mixed bunch. Have you worked with them in the past?
I’ve worked with Liam Miller (who plays Muddles) before.
Mother and daughter, wasn’t it?
Yeah, that kind of thing. I haven’t worked with Zoe or Lee before but we’ve met a couple of times and I think we’re going to get on great. I think there’s a real lovely mix. We’ve got two wonderfully strong singers in Lee and Zoe. We’ve got great comedy from Patrick and Liam and I think we’ve got just a mix of everything and there’s going to be a lot of boxes ticked in the show.
Finally, why should people go see “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” when it comes to Darlington Hippodrome?
Because I think at the moment, God knows what Trump’s going to do next, but we’re going to need a bit of escapism, a bit of fun away from the traumas and I think this will just totally rekindle people’s faith in fun and joy and just good old storytelling at its best. You’re going to have a great time.
“Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” runs at Darlington Hippodrome from Saturday, December 9th, 2017 until Sunday, January 14th, 2018. Tickets can be purchased from the box office on 01325 405405 or by visiting the Darlington Hippodrome website.