He's a one man 'Ballroom Blitz', the 'Rebel Rebel' from 'Virginia Plain', a 'Killer Queen' who's ready to 'Can The Can' and 'Get It On' with the 'Starman'... meet Professor Pocus, the most glittery, badass, wizard villain that ever tried to down a magic carpet!
Standing a good 6-foot-6 in his platform boots and glitz, nobody is going to miss Pocus when he takes the stage in Aladdin, the magical family pantomime at Lighthouse this Christmas.
For actor Andrew Pollard it represents a change of pace after playing Dame in panto for the last 18 years, including last year’s Panto Award winning turn with Alim Jadavji as Ugly Sisters Nadine and Doris in Cinderella at Poole.
“This year I’ve got one costume, which is just a joy – I can go back to the dressing room have a little sit down between scenes,” he says.
“Having said that, sometimes when you’ve got a costume change for each scene the show goes so quickly, it just doesn’t stop, even when you’re off stage, but it will be nice this year just having the one costume.
“And it’s a great one, just look at it!”
Aladdin is written and directed by CBeebies star Chris Jarvis, creating Professor Pocus to move the story away from the familiar Disney version and adding a new dimension that’s literally out of this world.
“Chris has very cleverly moved it along,” Andrew explains. “Pocus is a wizard really and there are little nods to Harry Potter, but he’s also Glam Rock – he really fancies himself – and maybe there’s a bit of Leslie Phillips as well. I have a lair, a proper villain’s lair with a throne and all that.
“In the story, the lamp has been re-hidden and the quest is on again to find it. For me, Aladdin is one of the best adventure stories in panto. It’s got a lot of magic; the romance is great.
“The great thing about panto is that it stays the same, but it changes. It reinvents itself as we all still want to hear those stories. It’s still massively popular and you can’t knock that. People love it. For me it’s the culmination of everything.”
And the good news for Poole audiences is that Andrew and Alim are both champing at the bit to rekindle their magic from last year.
“Yes, definitely. There’s a bit between me and Alim where Alim disguises himself as the Princess and we have a flirty romance mash up song together. I think he’s the Princess.”
And what of the Pantomime Awards night, did you have any idea in advance that you and Alim had won Best Sisters.
“Not at all, but it was fantastic. Me and Alim were sat at the back in the middle of a row, so we just thought: ‘No chance.’ It was a genuine surprise.
“It’s just a great thing when you think your peers have seen it, people have really appreciated it and they think you’ve done a great job and to do it with an old friend, it was such a lovely icing on the cake. Alim and I had done shows together before, but we’d never done a double act, so it was really lovely to get that.”
Panto Award notwithstanding this has been a busy year for Andrew that has seen him adapt Around the World In 80 Days for an outdoors show in Lancaster and play Glastonbury.
“I created a cabaret with a few friends last year and we were asked if we’d come back and do it again this year. It was fantastic, the weather was fantastic, it was such a buzz. I used to do it years ago when I did street theatre, so I went eight or nine years on the trot in late 90s, but this time we only had to do 20-minute sets and only for two days, so we just had an absolute blast… and we’ve been asked back!
“I’ve never been idle; I can’t just sit around. I think it’s because I started off in street theatre rather than as a legit actor. As long as I’m creating, I’m OK – if I get to the end of the year and I’ve earned my money being creative I just think: ‘You’ve won!’”
:: Written and directed by Chris Jarvis, who appears as Widow Twankey, with Production Designer James Smith and Musical Supervisor Darren Reeves, Aladdin stars Melinda Messenger as the Spirit of the Ring and features Ionica Adriana as Princess Jasmine and Bournemouth-born Josh Haberfield as the comic character Wishee-Washee. Pantomime Award winners Andrew Pollard and Alim Jadavji, whose winning double act as the ugly sisters in Cinderella last year stole the show, are back at Lighthouse playing the villain Professor Pocus and Genie of the Lamp respectively. In his pantomime debut, West End actor Benjamin Armstrong plays the title role.
:: Aladdin opens on Thursday 7 December and runs until New Year’s Eve. Tickets are on sale now at www.lighthousepoole.co.uk, or call 01202 280000.