HECTIC is a word often used to describe the run-up to Christmas but for one of this year’s panto stars, a hectic schedule is simply the norm.
Musician, comedian and actor Kev Orkian is starring as Buttons in Cinderella at Milton Keynes Theatre and is putting to use his many talents to captivate all the family.
The triple-threat entertainer is one of the most sought-after pantomime performers in the UK and his cheerful, well-timed humour suits the comedy role of Buttons – servant to Cinderella’s father, Baron Hardup, and best friend to Cinders.
Buttons is secretly a little bit in love with Cinderella and Kev and our panto princess (presenter Anna Williamson) get along famously, having starred together alongside Dame Edna Everage in Dick Whittington at The New Wimbledon Theatre, London, last year.
Multi-talented Kev is not just a funny-man, he is also considered the number one comedy concert pianist in the world.
Putting his talents to use as a highly skilled pianist, singer and actor, Kev has honed his art to perfection over many years, from his days as a classical concert pianist to performing stand-up comedy and supporting some of the biggest names in British comedy.
His credentials certainly suggest that city pantomime audiences will be fully entertained whenever Buttons is on stage.
Kev has performed with artists including Lionel Richie, Dame Edna Everage, Paul Daniels and Katherine Jenkins.
Asked who he has particularly enjoyed performing with, Kev said: “Dame Edna Everage is someone I have always looked up to – admired – and when I found out I would be performing with the great Edna last year you can just imagine how over the moon I was.
“I signed that contract and soaked everything up from my idol, learning the craft and seeing how to really make a role fantastic.”
Kev’s one-man comedy show has won him critical acclaim and standing ovations, while as a pianist he has toured with a variety of orchestras and appeared at many prestigious venues, including the Sydney Opera House, Windsor Castle and The Kodak Theatre in LA.
He made his West End debut starring in Fame at the Victoria Palace Theatre, before taking on roles in other West End musicals, including Me and My Girl, Grease, Buddy Holly, Happy Days and Boogie Nights.
Kev has entertained audiences from all over the world with his unique blend of off-beat humour with sensational performances on the piano.
Notable performances include private invitations to entertain members of the royal family – including party-goers celebrating HRH Prince Phillip’s 89th Birthday, HRH Prince Charles, Prince Margaret, Prince Andrew and numerous royal families from Oman and Dubai.
So what makes a great audience – what does Milton Keynes have to aim for?
Kev said: “An audience is what you as a performer make it, it is an ambience and it is what you create before you are on-stage.
“We need to create an atmosphere of fun and have the right music and lighting.
“We have to read the audience, cater for the audience and make sure that everyone has a top time.
“Buttons is my all-time favourite pantomime character to play – MK makes my hat-trick as I will perform the role for my third year – and the character is just perfect for a comedian.
“He is fun, exciting, there is dancing and, best of all, I get to play my piano – there is a special moment created just for me!”
A patron and avid supporter of the British Forces Foundation, Kev is constantly touring bases around the UK and flying out to Afghanistan to entertain the forces with Katherine Jenkins and James Blunt.
Since meeting ‘forces sweetheart’ Katherine Jenkins three years ago – when the pair were boarding a military plane bound for Afghanistan – the two talented performers have built a solid working relationship.
Due to technical issues, that particular plane didn’t travel past Cyprus but they still made it to entertain the troops – steppin’ up to do their bit to keep spirits up.
After enjoying performing their comedy opera routine together on numerous occasions, the pair decided to get ‘Stepping Out’ on ITV1 when Katherine welcomed Kev and his unique comedy performances on to her very own primetime show earlier this month.
Currently, Kev is loving performing in pantomime in MK and Cinderella is proving to be a fabulous piece of family entertainment.
The all-round entertainer adds: “I really think that the MK panto is one of – if not the – best pantos this year.
“We have a cast from the A-team – Louie Spence is like a timebomb when he takes to the stage, Anna is just an adorable Cinderella and Deniece Pearson is just an amazing singer.
“So with a cast of really good actors – the cream of the crop – the whole show is just fantastic fun.”
> Cinderella at Milton Keynes Theatre runs until January 6, call 0844 8717652 or visit www.atgtickets/miltonkeynes.com to book.