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Provided By: Liverpool Empire Theatre
Continuing our preview of Snow White this winter at the Liverpool Empire, we spoke to Liam Mellor, who plays Muddles in the show. Liam told us about who Muddles is and why people can relate to his character, as well as some of his other experiences and his love for theatre and pantomime ...
To begin with, how did you get involved in Snow White?
Well, I was here at the Empire last Christmas for Dick Whittington, and after the show finished, the producer rung me and said "Would you like to come back this year for Snow White?" And I was like, "Yeah!" It was as simple as that.
Tell us about your character Muddles.
Muddles is Snow White's best friend. It's normally the character that I play He's in love with the Princess, he never gets the Princess; it's just a character that's always up for fun and laughter, and love as well. But to be honest, the audience mainly fall in love with Muddles; that's the love I get back if I do my job right. I play my character like a child in a big body, like Jack (in the Robin Williams film). That's the way I play it, all childlike, and my humour is mainly for the kids. Obviously, there's stuff for the adults as well, but mainly I interact with the kids to keep them happy.
What would you say is your most unusual experience from participating in panto?
I don't like to write a lot of the comedy; I like to do off-the-cuff humour and see what happens with the audience. I do a lot of ad-libbing; just ask the cast! (Laughs) So, I like to go with the flow and see what happens. I've never had anything where anybody has reacted badly, but I did have one situation last year where we did Whip and Nae Nae and we teach the kids how to do it, and this one girl turned around and said to me "Eh! That's not how you do it! This is how you do it!" And she did it and was amazing, and I was like "I've just been mugged off here by a four-year-old!" But I like it when people give me stuff back; I like to have a bit of banter, because at the end of the day it's all fun and laughter. And I like the shows to stand out; I'm not a big fan of what we call cod corpses, where something is messed up but it was supposed to be messed up, but the audience doesn't know that. I don't like that; there's always a mistake that happens in every show, so I like to go along with that and then make a big thing out of it.
What are the other highlights of your theatre career?
Well, I'm also a writer; I write a lot of pantomimes over in St Helens. This is my 11th year in pantomime, and I've been doing it since I was 17. I also went to China with a pantomime last year for 3 ½ months with Aladdin, so that was a new experience for me; that was quite good fun. But I mainly do theatre and a lot of comedy, whether it's a comedy play or whether it's a pantomime; either way, I love theatre.
You mentioned the Aladdin show in China; did you have to tailor your performance a little differently given that you were playing to a new audience?
Yeah. Well, for me, I was lucky because over there they like a lot of visual humour, so they like a lot of slapstick, which is my favourite sort of humour anyway. Also, all of the lines were translated, and there were boards above the stage and to the side of the stage that translated the language. So sometimes you'd be there performing to them, and they're looking up to these boards, or they're looking to the sides at the boards. But I put in a bit of Chinese as well, which the translators did for us, so it helps break that barrier with the audience. So my first line was "Ni hao everybody!", which means "Hello everybody!" It's amazing because if I did that, I got a really big round of applause because you've spoken their language, which was really nice. The people were lovely, and they're really respectful to people over there, so it was good fun.
Do you have any future ambitions in theatre?
I will definitely not give up doing pantomime at Christmas for anything; no matter what I was doing, whether I got a TV role or a film role, I would make sure that I would always get to do a pantomime. My granddad took me as a child to watch pantomime every year at theatres in Sheffield, and that was a very special time for me. I always used to make my granddad wait and we would be the last people to leave just because I never wanted to leave. So, pantomime has got a really special place in my heart, no matter what I do or no matter what I might like to do. I've started writing pantomimes now, which is fantastic. I've also just become an executive producer for a company on their pantomimes which I love. But I'd never give up actually performing in pantomimes.
Finally, what can the Liverpool audience expect from Snow White?
They can expect the same as last year (in Dick Whittington) but with extra jokes, extra pizzazz, extra foolery; basically, everything x 100. They loved everything I did last year which I'm very grateful for, so this time I've got to bump it up and do even more, and then maybe they'll want me back the year after.
Snow White will be delivering festive fun at the Liverpool Empire from Saturday December 10 to Saturday December 31. To book your tickets, click here.