John Barr returns as witty Dame for Queen's Theatre's Christmas pantomime Robin Hood
PUBLISHED: 15:00 07 November 2019 | UPDATED: 15:06 07 November 2019
The well-known story of a heroic thief and a greedy sheriff will soon be showing in Hornchurch for this year's pantomime.
Queen's Theatre is promising lots of laugh out loud family silliness and traditional audience participation for its December show, Robin Hood.
Deep in the heart of his foreboding castle, the dastardly sheriff of Nottingham is taxing the poor to pile up his gold, while imprisoning brave maid Marian and her hilarious Nanny Fanny.
But the sheriff hasn't banked on the arrow slinging hero Robin emerging from Sherwood Forest to target the hand of Marion and outwit the villain's plans.
Can Robin save the day with a little help from his band of Friar Tuck and plucky Merry Folk?
John Barr garnered rave reviews for his turn as Dame Dotty Trott in 2018's Jack and the Beanstalk.
This year he returns to the Hornchurch stage as Nanny Fanny, maid Marian's hilarious nurse.
He told the Recorder: "The show is filled with lots of humour.
"This year I'm playing Nanny Fanny who is a nanny to the stars.
"She's been a nanny to Barry Manilow and Prince Harry.
"Nanny Fanny is very cheeky and she's on the hunt for a man. She also takes her role as a nurse very seriously."
John has performed in 25 pantomimes and this is his fifth time taking on the role of the Dame.
However he has yet to perform in a Robin Hood pantomime.
"I always find that the best pantomimes I have been in have humour for everyone," said John.
"It's a bit like the film Toy Story where the kids hear the double entendres and they might laugh along because mummy and daddy are laughing.
"Everyone from a five-year-old to a 25-year-old will get the jokes.
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"That's my job as a man playing a woman, to provide some comedy that's sometimes a bit near the bone."
Written by Andrew Pollard and directed by Douglas Rintoul, the theatre's artistic director, this actor-musician pantomime features plenty of pop hits from across the decades, such as How Will I Know by Whitney Houston.
John said: "All of the cast members are very talented and can play three or four instruments.
"I can't play many instruments but I've been told I'm quite mean on the triangle."
The Plaistow actor added that while actor-musician productions are slowly becoming more popular, it's still quite rare for a pantomime's actors to play instruments while performing.
"There's a theatre in Ipswich that does it, but their show is a rock n' roll pantomime," said John.
"It's very much a genre of its type."
John will be joined by Phil Adèle as the generous thief Robin Hood, Elian West as Eweniss the Sheep and Georgina Field as the crafty witch, Morgana.
Queen's Theatre was one of the first theatres that John ever performed in at the age of seven.
John used to live in East Ham and his grandmother, Molly, - who he often bases his Dame characters on - was a regular at the theatre.
"I am overjoyed to be returning to the Queen's Theatre in Robin Hood, it's a fantastic theatre and I can't wait to see all the boys and girls, mums and dads, nannies and granddads again this Christmas," said John.
"There are some really great songs this year.
"A wonderful guy called Tom Self has done all of the music."
Romford McDonalds is the principal sponsor of this year's pantomime.
Robin Hood will be showing at the Queen's Theatre in Billet Lane from Thursday, November 28 to Sunday, January 5.
On Thursday, January 2 the theatre will be providing two adapted shows for a dementia friendly performance at 1.30pm and a relaxed performance at 5.30pm for people who would benefit from a quieter environment, and an audio-described performance on Saturday, January 4.
Visit queens-theatre.co.uk or call 01708 443333 for tickets.