After five weeks of fabulous fun, MK Theatre’s pantomime Cinderella plays its final performance on Sunday evening.
It means Milton Keynes will wave goodbye to stars Brian Conley and Gok Wan who have brought sunshine to the city during the chilliest time of year.
Nattering in Gok’s dressing room in-between shows, the affection the two have for each other is clear. It’s not for stage only, and the friendly nature is something that echoes through the cast entire. “When you are putting on panto, it has to be uplifting, and full of joy and happiness, and you have to have that backstage as well,” Gok says.
“If you don’t, that transcends to the stage.
“The most intelligent audience that we play out to are the kids - they will see through animosity, they will see through an argument. In panto it is really important that every single person gets on, and I think that’s the success of this one...” he pauses. “And everyone really likes working with me, that’s the main thing!” he declares, as he and Brian get the giggles.
It happens frequently during our chat. They really are best buddies. But there are moments of seriousness - we are living in a sensitive era, and panto, perhaps obviously given its double-entendres and playful finger-poking has come under fire this year.
“We try to do stuff that is risque and quite edgy, and we see how it lands. If it doesn’t land propery, it goes out straight away.
“Some people think that just because of the art form that is panto that you have carte blanche and can do or say what you want to. And I think that’s the problem - some people did get carried away this year.”
But that’s certainly not the case in MK, and Gok has the best way to make sure stuff is filtered and fine for all.
“We said all the way through that if there’s anything on stage that my three year-old god-daughter wouldn’t appreciate, then it’s not going on,” he says.
“I care about the audience, and they edit it and tell us what they want and what they don’t want. Then we get on with it,” Brian explains.
This year’s panto is the third that Brian and Gok have teamed up for. Theirs is a winning formula all round. And fans will be pleased to learn that it’s a union set to continue.
“I just wouldn’t do panto without Brian,” Gok says resolutely.
But this year’s stint still has five days to go. Treat yourselves to a litte new year cheer and book tickets.
“The best thing everyone always says is, ‘I brought the kids, but I had such an amazing time...’ Brian says.
“Everyone knows the story of Cinderella and that is the framework for us to hang an amazing amount of comedy and warmth on...”
To book, visit www.atgtickets.com/miltonkeynes