Maureen Lipman is a national treasure and well known for a myriad of fantastic performances in comedies, dramas, commercials – she can turn her hand to anything. Her impersonation of Joyce Grenfell is my over-riding memory and yet her talents stretch way beyond that example. Now, she’s treading the boards as the wicked Carabosse in Sleeping Beauty at Richmond Theatre. I can testify that Lipman in pantomime is something to behold and she embraces the experience to the hilt. I had a chat to Richmond’s resplendent baddie about the show and her new book…
Thanks for talking to Break A Leg, Maureen. What do you enjoy about pantomime?
The sheer fatigue of two shows a day is lifted by the interaction with the audience. Thinking on your feet, adding topical jokes reacting to their reactions is energising.
What’s the best part of playing the baddie?
The devil gets the best tunes! My Carabosse has hark/ back moments to Grenfell and Beattie and some mimicry, childish, spiteful – all fun things to play.
Is it an easy role to take on?
Yes. It seems to play to my strengths. I am honestly loving putting on the sparkle and slithering around the stage. I love it when they boo and hiss at me too.
What are the strengths of this particular pantomime?
CHRIS JARVIS understands children – what they like and he has such a rapport with the house. As a director he is just kindness and care combined and collaborative too, which, after fifty years as an actress- means a lot to me. The young actors can really sing and dance and act – triple threat, and the kids are adorable and so professional.
Why do you think that pantomime is still an important part of British tradition?
Variety is missing from our lives and our screens. Sacrificed to murder and cakes. People love to be involved in a live experience. To see a traditional show through the eyes of their children is uplifting.
I think I’ve read most, if not all of your books so far, tell me about your latest one…
It is a small book of my cartoon paintings done on Art Set on my I pad. Eighty four studies of the famous in animal guide, punning on their names: ie: AngeLEMUR Jolie and Brad PITT- BULL, ANGELA MEERKAT, MOORHEN Lipman and TUNA STUBBS. Interspaced with animal jokes it is one heck of a stocking filler and a percentage of the royalties goes to Myeloma UK.
A final word from Richmond’s Carabosse to all of the lovely people who haven’t bought a ticket yet?
Look it is a little Pop oriented for my taste but when I see all those kids, grandparents and parents on their feet dancing every night I know we have a hit on our hands.
And we’re cheaper and cleaner than the Palladium! Get down the box office, you won’t be disappointed – Oh no you won’t!
Huge thanks to Maureen for taking the time out of her really hectic festive schedule to chat to me. Her book looks like it will be the perfect stocking filler, this Christmas! Don’t forget to book your tickets by following this link: Richmond Theatre
A link to Maureen’s new book: https://www.bitebackpublishing.com/books/it-s-a-jungle-out-there
Photo credits: Anna-Lisa Maree