“Once upon a time. He’s behind you! On no he isn’t! Boo! Happily ever after.” It’s not easy to summarise a pantomime in a short, bite-sized chunk, but family-friendly entertainers Dan and Jeff picked up an Olivier Award nomination last year for Potted Panto, which charged through seven dame-packed tales in 70-minutes.
Back in London at the Vaudeville theatre for a 2011 season, and with an extra panto thrown in for good measure, Official London Theatre decided to test their barnstorming brevity with a potted interview to make Twitter look like Dostoyevsky, where they were only allowed 100 characters for each answer:
How did you first meet and come to work together?
Dan: He was working as a waitress in a cocktail bar when I met him. I picked him out, shook him up, turned him into something new.
How did you first come up with the Potted shows idea?
Jeff: It was born of necessity. We had 20 mins to make 400 Potter fans laugh. (At the launch of book 5).
Describe Potted Panto in the all-important 100 characters or less.
Dan: Fast-paced, laughter-filled 80 minutes where 2 men who should know better race through 8 pantos.
Funniest moment in Potted Panto?
Jeff: There are many. But it probably involves me getting covered in something (like poo or porridge).
Is there any romance?
Dan: Well with Jeff playing many ‘Beautiful’ Princesses & me as Prince Charming, there’s romantic tension in the air!
Why will children love this show this Christmas?
Jeff: Because it’s got everything a panto has – times 8! And we don’t patronise them.
Is there anything in it for adults?
Dan: Absolutely! We are advocates of family entertainment so regardless of age there is something for everyone in the show.
Would you ever do a show just for adults?
Jeff: Never say never. But we are loving doing family shows right now.
What are your favourite ever pantos and why?
Dan: Cinderella. The prince’s basis for finding his soul-mate is whether she fits a shoe! Good life lesson!
Why are pantomimes so popular with the British people?
Jeff: They are the remnants of our theatrical heritage. That and the bum jokes.
How did you feel when you were nominated for an Olivier Award last year?
Dan: Surprised and speechless! Which doesn’t happen often to me! It was a great honour.
What was the night like?
Jeff: Incredible. Like we were crashing someone else’s party. We were sat behind Derek Jacobi!
How will you both be spending Christmas? Who will you be with on Christmas Day?
Dan: Christmas will be with my family. We always make sure, wherever we are in the world, we head home for Christmas.
What are your favourite eight things about Christmas?
Jeff: Mulled wine, presents, mulled wine, family, mulled wine, carols, parties & mulled wine.
What have been the highlights of your Potted career so far?
Dan: When we opened at the Garrick, walking onto the stage and thinking, 5 years ago we were playing an 80-seater in Edinburgh!
Has anything ever gone wrong on stage?
Jeff: Oh yes. The shows are so mad backstage, it is rare to have a performance where nothing goes wrong!
Dan you have acted in television dramas. Will we see you in a serious play on stage soon?
Dan: Never say never! It’s the diversity that makes mine the greatest job in the world!
If you were interviewing each other, what burning question would you ask?
Dan: When I’m on stage do you nick my Strepsils? They are going down at an alarming rate.
Jeff: No, I think you eat them in your sleep. I do, however, steal your pistachios…
Jeff: Oooh, so Dan, it’s obviously great working with me. What’s the very best bit?
Dan: Covering you in porridge, custard, water and poo.
What’s next? Potted Popeye? Potted Pooh? Potted Pinter?
Dan: I’d love to do something on Dr Who, we’ve just got to make it fit with P! Failing that can I just be in Dr Who?
Jeff: Some good suggestions there. We may steal.., er, sorry, “borrow” one of those.
If you both weren’t Potted geniuses, what would you be doing and why?
Dan: I’d like to be an archaeologist, preferably in the 1930’s, with a hat and a whip. Essentially I want to be Indiana Jones.
Jeff: My only other love is history, so I guess something historical, rather than hysterical, as it were…