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Charming lunch

December 9, 2022

An ironic lunch. Well, ironic might not be the word. Anyway…

For three years in a row Alex was my panto leading man. After that run of shows he did come back once to play the pantomime dame in a locally written panto in which I played the pirate villain. To be honest, I didn’t think much of the script, but, after directing him in numerous shows, it was a blast to be able to act with him on stage.

He and his partner and two friends started a catering company, which kept him too busy to get involved in further pantos. Earlier this year they took over an island restaurant. One of the items on the menu is a pulled pork sandwich. Now, I know, from sampling it at a previous event, that Alex makes mighty fine pulled pork. I have three times since they opened attempted to sample said pulled pork sandwich, but every time I tried they’d run out. 

When Ben, my recent pantomime hero, suggested getting together I mentioned my as yet unfulfilled desire for pulled pork. Yesterday he went into the restaurant to enquire about timing and was told that to guarantee pulled pork (which was made in limited quantities and went fast) we should arrive no later than 11:30. Blimey. As it happens we’re both night owls. I’ve usually only got around to thinking about breakfast by that time. But we went for it and the pulled pork was delicious. 

It wasn’t until I waved at Alex in the kitchen when we were leaving that it occurred to me that it was ironic (if that’s the word I want) that I’d just had a lunch with my current pantomime hero which had been cooked by my previous hero.

So, Ben. One of a number of panto miracles this time around.

After the second person I’d considered for the role told me they couldn’t do it, I was left, a week before the auditions, with no prince. Over dinner with a friend I suddenly remembered a bloke who’d turned up at the very first open audition we’d held a few years ago. I clocked him immediately because he was male and he wasn’t a pensioner. For those reasons I made a mental note of his name. He failed to turn up at any subsequent auditions, but I did remember his name. And so I asked my friend if she by any chance knew or knew of him. Turns out one of her colleagues is a good friend of his, so a roundabout approach was made. Apparently his initial reaction was “no way”, followed 15 minutes later by “well, maybe, why not?”

I searched him out on Facebook and confirmed that, yes, the fellow could (as indeed he did) look like a prince. 

I knew he was a musician, so he was at least comfortable being on a stage. As far as I was concerned, if he could memorise lines that would be enough. Well, to steal one of the prince’s lines, lucky me. Lucky, lucky me. Turned out he was an absolute bloody natural. Couldn’t possibly be more charming. 

I got together with him a couple of times during rehearsals for some one-on-one direction. On one of these occasions he asked me how I’d become involved with the theatre group. Told him the story I’ve told many times about seeing an audition ad in the local paper a few months after Mike died and deciding to try out for that year’s panto, figuring it would, at a minimum, get me out of the house and out of my head. And I finished with what I always say: It was the smartest decision I made in 2011. To which he replied that deciding to audition for Cinderella might just be the smartest decision he’s made in his life.

Looks like we’ve got a pantomime hero (and so much more) for the foreseeable. Let’s just hope he doesn’t open a restaurant.

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