This evening, 9th December, Karim Zeroual is making his pantomime debut in Crawley’s The Hawth Theatre’s pantomime Peter Pan, where he will be playing the titled character alongside a cast including Rita Simons as Captain Hook, and the pantomime will run until 2nd January 2023. In 2019, Karim was a contestant on Strictly Come Dancing, reaching the Final with his professional partner Amy Dowden, and since his success on the show, he was part of the dance show Here Come the Boys, both at the London Palladium and on the UK Tour. Karim was a CBBC presenter for a number of years, and he had his first lead on-screen job playing Sadiq in CBBC’s The Sparticle Mystery across all three series of the show. Ahead of Peter Pan opening at The Hawth Theatre, Karim told us about making his pantomime debut as Peter Pan in Crawley, being a Finalist on Strictly Come Dancing with Amy Dowden and his time working with CBBC.
In this year’s pantomime at The Hawth Theatre, you are set to play Peter Pan, what are you looking forward to for starting your run in Crawley?
I’m so excited to be back on stage doing what I love most – performing. We have a fantastic cast which is a pleasure to perform with and I can’t wait to entertain the audience. I’m excited to fly too!
What can audiences expect from your portrayal of the character and how will you prepare to play him?
I’m similar to Peter Pan in the fact I don’t want to grow up, lol. Brave, youthful and mischievous. I’ll be bringing a dance vibe too!
How familiar are you with the Peter Pan pantomime and what was it like meeting the rest of the cast for the first time?
I know the story of Peter Pan well, but not the panto. It’s SO MUCH FUN! They’re lovely and so talented!
Do you have a favourite aspect of performing in front of a live audience and what drew you to the role of Peter Pan?
A live audience is the best as you get a reaction straight away (hope it’s a good one). He’s such an iconic character that it was a no-brainer wanting to do it!
How do you think you’ll find the experience making your pantomime debut and interacting with the audience?
I’m excited to make my panto debut but also nervous. Once I see the audience, that’s when I’ll really come alive and I can’t wait to interact with everyone.
Why would you recommend Peter Pan to families and audience members this Christmas?
Peter Pan is genuinely amazing! We have sentimental parts and a whole lot of comedy! The talent is unreal. You’ll definitely have fun.
In 2019, you were a contestant on Strictly Come Dancing with your professional dancer Amy Dowden, what was it like to be part of and how was it making the Final?
Strictly was one of the best experiences of my life. It was hard work but so much fun. I can’t believe I got to the Final. I couldn’t have done it without Amy! A show I’ll never forget 😀.
What was your favourite dance to perform and which did you find most challenging?
I loved the quickstep and charleston but I really loved the jive too. It meant so much getting the response we did! I struggled with the Viennese waltz… too many turns, lol!
How was it performing at the London Palladium and going on tour with Here Come the Boys?
Here Come the Boys was great. To be able to host and dance with an incredible cast and some of the Strictly pros was an honour. I can’t believe I had the opportunity to do so! Touring up and down the country was so much fun.
Last year, you appeared on Celebrity Best Home Cook, what was this like?
I love cooking so much but this show was hard, haha! I enjoyed it but wow, cooking on TV, for Mary Berry, with a time limit was tense! I had to make vol-au-vents… vol-au-vents!
Do you have any favourite memories from your time over the years as a CBBC presenter?
CBBC was the best job in the world. Too many memories to list. Working with the presenters and, of course, Hacker, and messing around was a blast.
You started your screen career as an actor playing Sadiq in The Sparticle Mystery, what do you remember most from working on the series?
The Sparticle Mystery was my first lead on-screen job. I LOVED that show. We tackled serious issues in a sci-fi, fantasy way. An AMAZING role and to get three series was a privilege. I learnt so much from the cast and crew. I still miss doing it.
What are some of your other stand-out highlights from your career so far?
Stand-out highlights would have to be Strictly, a documentary I did called A Week to Beat the World, where I got to travel to Guatemala, Brazil and Japan. How AMAZING! Also, trekking across the Namibian desert for a mental health charity was an experience I’ll never forget. I can’t believe I did it.
Where does your love of performing and presenting come from and how did you start?
Growing up I loved music and Jim Carrey. I always loved TV and film and loved performing as a kid to my family. I’ve always wanted to perform. I’m so thankful and humbled that I get to.
How do you like to spend your free time?
I love DJing, chilling, socialising and shopping 😀.
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