ACTOR Greg Powrie is looking forward to being booed by the Eden Court audience this Christmas.
Normally that would not be a good thing for a performer and certainly not over the past couple of years when he played the dame at the Inverness theatre.
This year, however, it will mean he is doing his job as Peter Pan’s dapper villain, Captain Hook.
"I wasn’t actually going to return this year because I had a really busy year in 2012, but I was pretty tired and I decided during the rehearsal period it might be better for everyone if I took a break and let somebody else have a go and give the people of Inverness a chance to see someone else doing it," he explained.
However, by August, by which time Iain Wotherspoon had already been cast as this year’s dame, Nanny McSmee, Powrie was ready to return to pantoland and phoned up production company Imagine Theatre.
"It so happened that the guy who had been offered Hook had said he couldn’t do it just that day, so here I am," Powrie said.
"I’m actually more used to playing the villains than the dame.
"It’s only in the last five or six years that I’ve started playing the dame and it’s kind of familiar territory in that I’ve done it before, but I’m starting to realise how much easier it is – if only because I don’t have half a million costume changes!"
He might not miss the costume changes, although he still gets to keep an elaborate wig, but Powrie admits he will miss the dame’s interaction with the audience.
"The best bit about being dame is going off-script and you have to go with the flow, particularly when you are getting people out from the audience," he said.
"One guy who came up was a sheep farmer and that was gold for me. He was very nervous, so I got the entire audience to bleat to make him feel comfortable.
"The ones who come up and just be themselves are the best. I had an undertaker as well and that was quite good. There were lots of ‘deadpan’ jokes and ‘ashen expressions’ and all that kind of stuff."
With ticket sales already ahead of the same period last year, Peter Pan is well on the way to being another seasonal success doe Eden Court, so Powrie can concentrate on his part.
"The villain has a particular job to do, but of all the villains, Hook is a terrific one," he said.
"It’s fun because he’s a sort of cod villain and he’s not all bad. But it’s great because my job is to get the boos and I will work at it.
"You have got to develop an evil laugh, obviously, that’s one of the main criteria. It’s not difficult to make children upset, but you’ve got to find a way to do it so they don’t leave the show!"
This is not Powrie’s first time as Hook, but his previous experience as the one-armed pirate was in JM Barrie’s original play rather than the panto.
"It was done at Christmas time and I think a lot of people to it thinking it was the panto, but the play is quite a different beast and quite dark," he pointed out.
One thing that Powrie will not be doing this year, however, is attempting to share his experience of playing the dame at Eden Court with this year’s actor.
"Absolutely not!" he declared.
"Iain’s an old hand and there’s nothing you can teach him and nor would I. That’s the thing I’m most aware of, that this is his gig and I have a completely separate job to do."
• This year’s Eden Court panto, Peter Pan, runs from Tuesday 8th December to Sunday 10th January.