Singer-songwriter Mark Read is an original member of boyband A1, who will be heading out on their reunion shows next month, before the group join The Boys Are Back UK Tour in 2020. Mark will be playing the role of Prince Charming in Cinderella starting 29th November and running until 5th January in the 2019 pantomime at Worthing Pavilion Theatre. We sat down with Mark to talk about touring with A1, returning to Cinderella and his role as Prince Charming.
You’ve performed in Cinderella previously, what are you looking forward to for returning to the show this time as Prince Charming?
I was Dandini four years ago and Matt Evers from Dancing on Ice was Prince Charming, and I never imagined I would come back because I normally try to do different shows every year. I jumped at the opportunity to come back to Worthing because it’s such a lovely place and I really love this theatre. I’m looking forward to playing a different part but also trying to bring something different to the role of Prince Charming. I’m going to try and make the Prince a bit more entertaining!
What are rehearsals like for a pantomime?
Long. There are early starts and you need a lot of patience, especially when doing tech rehearsals and they’re adjusting the lighting! They’re also a really good chance to bond with the cast. I’ve met the rest of the cast for the first time today, and two minutes after meeting Naomi Wilkinson (who’s playing Cinderella), we were asked to kiss! I was like, “we’ve just met!”. Rehearsals are hard work but a lot of fun.
How is it interacting with a pantomime audience?
It’s the best. Pantomime audiences are different every night, and different people react to different things. Kids like the silly noises and funny faces and adults get the other jokes. Panto has something for everybody, and it’s fun to change things up a little bit on the spot because when you’re doing sixty-seven shows, you don’t want to do exactly the same thing every night. The nice thing about panto is you get to change things based on the audience’s reaction.
What do you enjoy about performing at the Pavilion Theatre?
I love being by the coast and I love the actual venue itself, I have to say it looks like it’s had a new coat of paint since I was last here, and it looks really good! I really do like Worthing, and as I drove closer to the seafront, I got this feeling of remembering it from when I was here four years ago. I’m really looking forward to being back.
Do you find there’s a difference acting in pantomimes to other shows like Hairspray?
Yes, very much. A few years ago, I did a show called A Spoonful of Sherman, which was about the music of the Sherman Brothers, who wrote the songs from Mary Poppins, The Jungle Book and many other Disney classics. You can’t deviate from the script at all, you have to stick with it as it’s somebody else’s material they’ve written. If you go and see any production of Hairspray, it’s pretty much going to be the same, which is the same with Grease and The Rocky Horror Picture Show etc., it will be the same no matter who’s playing the parts. The nice thing about panto is it’s completely different and is based on the people and characters in the show. You get the opportunity to do different things every night.
As a singer-songwriter, how did you get into acting?
I haven’t trained and I think training with anything is very, very important. I learnt to become a musician as I started at a very young age, I was playing piano from around age three onwards, so through doing it, I learnt to become a better performer. The same thing is kind of happening with acting! The best way to improve is to work with other people who are really good because you have to instantly up your game. If you’re there as a complete amateur and you don’t understand what you’re doing, it will really show up. The thing with panto is you very much have to be yourself. Even though I am playing Prince Charming, they bill it as our names – Mark from A1, Ian from Strictly, Naomi from CBBC… so they expect that person to be them. It is a very different skill set being in panto than it is being in shows like Hairspray.
How does it feel to be heading out on a reunion tour with the original line-up of A1?
Really nice! I didn’t ever think that this would happen because we’d been quite estranged from our fourth member, Paul. We’d not really spoken for many, many years and we just assumed that he didn’t want to do it anymore. He then said, ‘yeah, let’s do it!’. It’s going really well. We’ve done a lot of tours in places like the Philippines and Singapore, but we’d not done a show in the UK. We announced a UK date for 3rd November and it sold out really quickly in four minutes! It’s been a really good feeling and it’s just growing from here. We’ve got four dates on this mini tour and then we’re doing a two-month tour next year, and then we’re going to do more after that. We’re back in a big way!
CINDERELLA starts 29th November and runs until 5th January at Worthing Pavilion Theatre.
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