Lee Latchford-Evans – Aladdin in Worthing this Christmas – reckons there is a huge cross-over between taking to the stage in panto and taking to the stage with Steps, the band with which he has found long-lasting fame.
It’s all about escapism, pure and simple.
“We live in a world where a lot of people have a lot of things to worry about, and panto is just a chance to go along and have a great night, to put all those worries to one side as much as you can and just to boo and cheer and have fun. It’s the most enjoyable thing.
“To get it right, for a good pantomime, you have got to have good comic timing and you have also got to have the jokes for the adults, and you have also got to have a cast that really gels together and helps each other on stage, guiding people the right way if they are new to it all. And I think you have also got to really know how to work the audience, and you have got to make sure that you make it special every night.
“But really it is just escapism, and that’s exactly the same with Steps. You go out there and you dance and you sing and it is a 100 per cent cross-over of skills. You have got to get the right vibe and do the best you can every time.”
Steps have achieved numerous awards and sold more than 20 million records worldwide. Having announced their split on Boxing Day 2001, they reformed ten years later with a top-rating TV show Steps Reunion which spawned a second series, Steps on the Road, along with a sell-out arena tour and a number-one album. Following a break to pursue solo work, the band came back together to celebrate their 20-year anniversary in 2017 with another sell-out 22-date arena tour and new album Tears on the Dancefloor, which hit the top of the charts.
“We originally had 15 arena dates which sold out and we ended up with 22, and then we had our first album for a while that had new material, and we found that we were battling Ed Sheeran for number one. I think we beat him on sales, but no one was every going to touch him for streaming. But it was just remarkable.
“You can question it. You can wonder what have we got that was so special that we were having that much success with something that we started 20 years ago, but I think really with Steps it has always been that marmite thing, that either you get it or you just aren’t interested at all. But actually, I think more and more people get it.”
There are people a few years ago that would never have admitted to liking Steps that are now more than happy to come out of the closet.
“I think the point is that it is just 100 per cent about relaxing and having a good time and just having fun and just being yourself. Without getting too serious about it, we have had people who have said that Steps have helped them through difficult times, through depression or whatever, through times when they have been struggling, and that’s great. They see that we are not taking it too seriously – and that it is just about being yourself and who you are.”
Aladdin runs at the Pavilion Theatre, Worthing until Tuesday, January 1. Tickets on http://www.worthingtheatres.co.uk.