Swinging by for panto is a bare necessity
Outshining his previous smash-hit shows at Harlow Playhouse is something that Tom Swift, the writer, co-producer and star of The Jungle Book, is determined to do.
Last spring, Tom, and his theatre company, Wicked Productions staged Alice in Wonderland at the Playhouse and the show was a resounding success, but Tom, 34, is not one to rest on his laurels.
“This is our fifth or sixth Easter show that we’ve done at Harlow. Every year it becomes a bit more difficult to outdo the previous year. People expect a really funny show,” he explains.
“There’s lots of fun in [The Jungle Book], lots of slapstick and lots of silly puppets.”
The Jungle Book tells the story of Mowgli, a young boy who is raised in the jungle by a family of wolves.
When Shere Khan the tiger swears to kill the child, Baloo the bear and Bagheera the panther agree to take the boy to the man village for his safety. But the jungle holds danger and surprises for them all in this hilarious adventure of a lifetime.
Tom plays Baloo the bear in the show; in promotional footage posted on Wicked Productions’ Twitter page, he showcases his overtly-goofy portrayal of the character – a tried and tested recipe for success.
“I think I’m a little bit typecast now, I think the audience expects me to play that silly role,” he says. “There’s a lot of pressure on you to be funny – it’s a hard task, but if you get it right, it’s a fun one and very rewarding.”
Tom added that he would like to have a stab at playing the villain someday, but this year’s evildoer, Shere Khan, is played by Ed Wright.
He’s a cheeky baddy – evil enough but also funny enough for the kids to giggle at him,” said Tom. “He’s got this great comedy timing.”
Ant Payne, another of Tom’s trusted panto veterans, takes to the stage as the trusty panther Bagheera.
One member of Tom’s regular troupe will be absent. His wife Amanda, who played the evil Queen of Hearts in the Playhouse’s 2018 Easter show, will be looking after their eight-month-old daughter Amelie.
And Tom is getting more and more excited about the show. He said: “I’m looking forward to it and, like our other shows, it will be good fun for the whole family.”
The Jungle Book will run at Harlow Playhouse from this Saturday until Thursday (April 6-11). There will be a matinee and an evening performance each day. Click here to buy tickets.