Cardiff New Theatre’s Christmas Pantomime for 2016, Peter Pan, gets underway this weekend starring American superstar and personality, David Hasselhoff as Captain Hook. The Cardiff show is the Hoff’s seventh consecutive annual appearance in UK pantomime.
“I keep saying I’m not going to do it again but you know what? I enjoy it!” Hasselhoff tells Andy Howells, “Christmas is a great time, it’s great to be in the UK and fantastic to be in Wales because my fiancées family are from here, so it feels like a second home. Every time I walk into a theatre, like I just walked into the Cardiff Theatre, I get chills, I just love it, it’s in my bones.”
Growing up in the US, one wonders if Hasselhoff, the star of such TV classics Knight Rider and Baywatch had any experience of panto before? “When I was in college and High School we’d do a melodrama like Love Rides the Rails where the villain would come on and you’d boo and throw tomatoes, you were actually given stuff to throw at the actors. Melodrama started back in the 1800s as a form of theatre which is very similar to panto. It kind of died out and doesn’t exist anymore and when I came to do the UK panto I thought “this is easy, this is melodrama I know how to do this!” I fell right into it, I mean, my whole life is like a panto, I walk on the street and all I get from people is “HOFF! HOFF!”
Playing Hoff The Hook allows Hasselhoff to involve the audience, something he enjoys immensely, “It’s really fun to play because it’s a great challenge not to scare the kids too much but to let them know I am the Hook! It gets the audience going, I have fun with them and they talk back, then I talk back and sometimes it’s fun to see how long it continues. Panto’s a great form of theatre, it involves the audience. If you go to see a show you need to be emotionally moved whether your crying, laughing or stomping, instead of been passive and sitting there.”
“I want to make sure people get their money’s worth,” continues Hasselhoff who is joined by Welsh comic Mike Doyle as Smee in Peter Pan, “it’s tough to bring the whole family, it costs a lot of money and we’re there to make sure everyone walks away with a magical experience.”
- Peter Pan runs from December 10 until January 8. Visit newtheatrecardiff.co.uk for ticket details.
- Read Part 2 of Andy Howells interview with The Hoff