Ben Ofoedu really does get audiences at both ends of the spectrum – which is one of the reasons he finds pantomime so much fun.
He is back in business this year as Herman The Henchman in Sleeping Beauty, the 2018 panto at Horsham’s Capitol (December 14-January 6).
He was in Horsham two years ago and in York last year.
“I think I have done six or seven pantos, and I just love them. I absolutely love them. I think it is the fact that I come from a background as a DJ for cool house music. I spend my whole life being cool and panto is very cool in a slightly different way.
“Pantomime is a world away from what I do. I am used to big clubs in Ibiza at 3am and doing a DJ set and getting people up and dancing. Now I am on stage at 11 o’clock in the morning to 400 people all in hysterics. It is nicer in a way.
“You are really working with the audience, and they are looking at you and they are really wanting you to make them laugh. It is like they are saying ‘Just say something and we will laugh!’ It is a really warm feeling, and it is great. You get to really interact with the crowd. It is so loose. You can extend a joke. You can do what you want with the crowd.
“A DJ audience is slightly different. It is definitely not as funny! People are not really there to laugh. People are there to dance. I have been very, very blessed. I have always come off the back of hugely successful selling records and people are ready to see me, but it is like they are always wanting you to prove yourself. Are you the real deal? Are you what we think you are? It is not like that in panto. They are just wanting to laugh and to enjoy themselves.”
So which is the real Ben, panto Ben or DJ Ben? The answer, of course, is both.
“Human beings are multi-faceted people. The only ones that box us in are ourselves or other people. Sometimes you are like this; sometimes you are like that. It’s just the way you are, and entertainment should allow us to express whatever we want to express, whether it is the part of me that is a DJ to a crowd of people aged 18-35 at three o’clock in the morning or a mixed crowd of everyone especially really young people in a pantomime audience at 11 o’clock in the morning.”
Plus with panto there is also that freedom.
“I think everything is possible in pantomime bearing in mind that there are children in the audience, but you can still have so much fun as long as it is not blue or rude or wrong. As a performer you have lots of responsibilities. I am one of those entertainers that is always thinking about what he is saying. If you are given a platform, whether it is by the record company or a stage for a pantomime, you have got to use that responsibility wisely and properly.”
Especially as panto, Ben feels, is more popular than ever now.
“When times are tough or when people are going through a tough time of it, people will seek out something they know and love, a hug from a mother or a father or a brother or a sister. People want familiarity, and I think that is what panto gives people when times are difficult.”
Call the box office on 01403 750220.
Click here to watch our video interviews with the other Capitol panto stars.