We caught up with ventriloquist and all-round entertainer John Kimmons as he embarks on his first-ever pantomime, playing Baron Hardup in Cinderella at the Churchill Theatre!
John is no stranger to show business. He’s spent the last three decades in front of an audience whether it’s at a village hall, theatre or on board a luxury cruise liner. His jokes are quick, his timing is razor sharp and his most famous side-kick Charlie Clifton is never far from his side.
Here, John shares his first encounter with pantomime and what he would buy the fairy godmother as a Secret Santa present!
How are you finding everything?
It’s been a great day. This is my first time meeting the cast! I know their faces but it’s great to finally meet people in person.
What was the first pantomime you saw?
The first pantomime I remember was Dick Whittington. I remember vividly being dragged out because I was crying – I was terrified of The King Rat, who was bathed in green light and shrouded in smoke.
We used to go to the pantomime every year and then I’d take my children. They’re now 26 and 29 but they’ll still come down to London and we’ll go and see a show together.
Cinderella is a classic everyone knows and loves. How do you want the audience members to react to the show?
Just as nicely as possible! I love the audience interaction – they’re like another member of the cast because you can talk to them and joke with them and part of the fun of a pantomime is how the audience responds. My character gets to break the fourth wall quite a lot. I’m very often left on stage and I’m just interacting with the audience, which I really enjoy.
Have you ever been to Bromley before?
This is my first time in Bromley!
Have you made it to the Glades yet?
Not yet but there’s a mention of The Glades in the script – a nice one, you’ll be pleased to hear I’m in Bromley for the next six weeks so it’s very likely you’ll see me wondering about the shops!
How are you spending Christmas this year?
Well, I may go home on Christmas Day. We have got Christmas Day off. My wife will come down here but we’re both in entertainment so we both normally work on Christmas and I’m normally on a cruise ship!
This is my first pantomime – I’ve worked on a few variety shows with a cast but I’ve never worked with a cast of characters in a pantomime and actually been part of an ensemble working together so this is very exciting for me. I’ve always wanted to do a pantomime but it’s not the world that I’ve been in. I work for Disney Cruise Lines during the year, which is hugely fun.
What marks the start of the festive season for you?
I love mince pies, but I try not to get any till the 1st of December. So that is the start of Christmas for me! That first mince pie is usually a lovely experience.
Normally, around this time of year, I change my show to incorporate more Christmas elements – I have a snowman puppet that comes out for my December shows, which tend to be all over the country in schools.
So say you’re doing the big Christmas Shop at the M&S at the Glades. What’s going straight in the trolley?
I am the only person in my family who likes Christmas pudding and M&S does a particularly good one so I’d definitely be adding a couple of those to my trolley and some other sweet treats for those who don’t like a traditional pud.
What would you hope to find under the tree this year?
You know, I think after I’ve done the pantomime run, it’ll just be nice to be at home. We normally postpone our Christmas celebrations to January and instead of doing presents, my wife and I go on a trip. We’ll use the money we’ve earned over the festive season to go somewhere warm for 10 days or so. It’s a real treat!
I know you haven’t been with your cast members very long. But if you had to buy a Secret Santa for one of them, what would it be?
Well, I think my first stop would be Claire’s to find Brenda a smaller pair of fairy wings. I shared a taxi with her and I had her wings in my face the whole way and she had to go sideways through all the doors because her wingspan was so wide!
You’ve got an unlimited budget to spend on your family at Christmas. What shops? Are you hitting?
I’ll be straight down the Apple store if it’s my kids I’m shopping for. My youngest is really into his gaming and he’s always got his eyes on the latest consoles!
What of your character is there any way that you relate to?
I’ve been broke many times in my life – as an entertainer, it’s very boom and bust. The way my character reads on the page feels relatable in that sense – he’s broke but he’s very optimistic. I like to think that I’m optimistic too and it pays off, particularly when more work and exciting opportunities come along. As chance would have it, this panto was just that! I was feeling very sad that my summer cruises were coming to an end and then I received the call to be in Cinderella. It was the nicest Christmas present I could’ve ever wished for.
Thank you so much to John for taking the time to chat with us! We’re so excited to see him on stage in his first-ever pantomime, playing Baron Hardup in Cinderella at the Churchill Theatre this December.
To find out more or book tickets, click here!