Riley Clark is delighted to return to Bognor Regis this Christmas for a second pantomime at the Regis Centre.
He will be playing Dandini in Cinderella, a handy venue for Riley who has just moved back to the Portsmouth area where he grew up.
“I started acting in Portsmouth,” Riley recalls.
“I started with amateur dramatics companies. I did CCADS and South Downs.
“I was doing plays and musicals, and I decided that I absolutely loved it and took it for GCSE and then auditioned for South Downs College. I did their two-year acting course, and it was really good. I really enjoyed it.
“It is one of the best colleges. The people that run the course had been to drama school themselves, and it was more practical than writing about it, which is really what you need.
“And then I went to East 15 in London, and that was a degree, a three-year course. I graduated in 2015.”
His first three years in the business have been great: “You learn so much once you leave drama school.
“You are learning when you are going for six or seven auditions a week and not getting the part.
“You are then learning your craft when you are doing the shows. I had an amazing time at drama school, but in the last three years I have really learnt what it means to be in this industry.
“And I do a lot of other things as well. I sing on the side. I was the main entertainment at the Guildhall for New Year’s Eve, doing swing and rat pack singing.”
He has just moved back to Portsmouth where he is hoping to save for a house. Inevitably a lot of the work will still be in London, but it is cheaper to travel there than to live there, Riley has discovered.
As for panto, this is Riley’s third for Spillers panto company. Last year he was Dandini in Cinderella in Epsom – a role he is playing again in Bognor.
“After playing Dandini last year, I think my perception of the character has changed. I had this character in my head and then I got into the stride of playing him, and I think I started to find all the nuances.
“The great thing with Dandini is that he loves his relationship with the Prince. That’s his main thing. He doesn’t want anything or need anything. He has just got this best mate who is also his boss.
“He has this couple of days where he is pretending to be the Prince, and it is great because you see this different side to him.
“It is nice to see that emotional side. Their friendship is strong and he has certainly got the Prince’s back.”
Riley is pleased to be back in Bognor.
“The shape and the size of the auditorium are perfect. It has got a lovely homely feel to it.”
Everything about the venue makes it conducive to delivering everything that the audience will want from their panto experience.
“When you are on stage, you can see everybody. The audience really aren’t far away, and it is really easy to feel involved straightaway which is what you need. You are at ease on stage which is what you want.
“And there is something really welcoming about the stage at Bognor, and you get great audiences who just really enjoy pantomime. I am really looking forward to it. It will be great.”
Cinderella will be at Bognor’s Regis Centre from Tuesday, December 11 to Wednesday, January 2. Tickets on http://alexandratheatre.co.uk.