Tuesday, 16 October 2018

By hook or by crook villain will scare your kids...

ANYONE less like a villain than Thom Ford — even one in a panto — is difficult to

ANYONE less like a villain than Thom Ford — even one in a panto — is difficult to imagine.

Good-looking and with an easy charm, his face is more often smiling; certainly not snarling.

The Kenton’s Jack and the Beanstalk is his first panto. No attempts to land the role of the Prince were successful — but try being the villain and it seems it is a role made for him and his many talents.

He can sing, he can dance, he does comedy and, he adds mischievously, “I do great snarling.”

As such, he will spend the next two weeks happily being hissed and booed in the role of the Crooked Man.

Thom is living proof that working in amateur dramatics can lead to a professional career. He started acting at sixth form colleague in Yeovil and plunged into the world of am-dram.

“I took every chance I could and loved it,” he says. “I liked learning from other members of the cast. People who could probably have been actors themselves but never had the chance for one reason or another. The fact I make notes about every part I play as I go along now is down to what’s learned back then.”

Thom went to the Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts in Wood Green. He says now: “I think the experience of what I had done at the Octagon in Yeovil certainly helped. I got straight in to what is a tremendous place.”

Asked if he has any interests away from acting he looks quizzical. “No, none... acting is what I love doing, it is my hobby as well as my job.”

His parents — mum worked backstage at the Octagon and his father is a salesman — have hired a minibus to bring a party of 12 to Henley from Somerset to see the panto.

“They are very supportive and love having a son who is an actor — my brother is the normal one,” he says.

Not that the journey to Henley is the longest trip the proud parents have made to see their son. He was appearing at the Edinburgh festival when they drove nine hours up to Scotland to see him and then made the return journey after the show.

Thom is part of a musical comedy sketch group called Four Screws Loose which has appeared at the Scottish festival five times and has built a tremendous reputation.

Their act is currently on hold while Thom is in panto and two other members of the team are in the BBC children’s TV show Swashbuckle.

“We will all get back together — it is great fun. But I am getting the chance to use all my theatrical skills here in Henley — even my dancing,” says Thom.

The cast are building a great camaraderie and Thom is looking forward to opening night tonight (Thursday). “I am keen to find out what the children of Henley are going to throw at me,” he says. “Not literally, of course, but you never know — more in how they respond to the villain. They have their part to play in the show.”

Thom vividly recalls the first panto he saw when he was six years old. “It was Sleeping Beauty and I remember the comedian was brilliant. It is such an important part of childhood and a part of creating a love of the theatre.”

Now he is concentrating on the snarl — and making the children of Henley just that little bit scared...

Jack and the Beanstalk runs until December 27. To book visit www.kentontheatre.co.uk or call (01491) 575698. Callers in person can book at the theatre box office in New Street from 11am to 3pm on weekdays and from 10am to 1pm on Saturdays.

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