After his first pantomime in Worthing last year, Mark Read, member of Brit award-winning boy band A1, makes it two in two years when he takes to the stage in the Christmas show Santa Claus – The Musical at Portsmouth’s New Theatre Royal.
It will be a convenient stint for Mark, who will be playing Joe the Chief Elf in the show, which runs from December 9-31.
“I have recently moved here. I am in the Havant area, just 15 minutes down the road.
“I was just looking for a change, somewhere closer to the coast, and it has been great. This couldn’t be a better venue for me now. I am really happy living here. It has worked out really, really well.
“And Worthing was fantastic last year.
“I was really thrilled to get the call in January to do another Christmas show.
“In January, another Christmas show really couldn’t have been further from my thoughts, but it has been great.
“When the band broke up, I went behind the scenes and got a publishing deal and was writing and producing for several years.
“It took me a few years to get round to doing panto, but it was something I had always wanted to do, and I grabbed the chance when it came along.
“In Worthing I was fortunate to be working with Keith Simmons and his son Ben, and they have got fantastic years of experience. I felt I learnt such a lot from working with them, and you have to learn quickly.
“You have to be on your A game from the start, and you have to realise that it is all about the team.
“It is important that you get on and that you all work together.”
As for the band, they are back in business, following a 2014 appearance on the TV show The Big Reunion.
They did an arena tour; and Mark comes to Portsmouth now off the back of a tour of Asia.
“It feels really different now. You just feel a lot more feel more relaxed.
“The first time all you were focusing on was what number you were in the charts, but now you can just enjoy it much more.”
As Mark suggests, it all felt very different second time around for the band – and more fun too.
“The pressure is off.
“First time round you were all caught up all the time in travelling from place to place, and you just didn’t actually get the chance to enjoy it.”
But he concedes there was a certain inevitability about one day getting back together again.
“It’s just the nature of the business. Nostalgia kicks in.
“The fan base starts wanting to see you again, and people start to seem to be appreciating you more!
“When we went to Asia, we hadn’t been there in ten years, and still thousands of people showed up wanting to see us.
“It was like we had never been away. If you hang around long enough, people will want you back!”
It helps too that he has got a much better balance to his life all round now.
“The day job is still the writing and producing, but still to be able to do things like touring with the band is great. I feel really fortunate that I can juggle all these things, and I am also doing a lot of voiceover work for a lot of the channels.
“ It is great to be able to mix it all up.”
And now, to cap it all, a Christmas show close to home.
“I am thrilled about coming to New Theatre Royal. Portsmouth has some of the most brilliant audiences in the country so I can’t wait to get on the stage and perform some of best-known and loved Christmas songs in this magical show.
“I can’t think of any better way to spend the Christmas season!”
Visit www.newtheatreroyal.com or call the box office on 02392 649000 to book tickets for Santa Claus.
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