Lyle and the challenges of panto

Lyle Buxton as the title character in Sinbad the Sailor. He is pictured with Belinda Henwood as Morgiana the Magnificent.

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BILLY SUTER chats to award-winning Durban actor LYLE BUXTON, who fills the title role in KickstArt’s 14th pantomime, Sinbad the Sailor, which runs from December 1 to January 7 at Durban’s Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre. It is a riotous romp over the Seven Seas, in the company of the famous sailor and his madcap crew and family. The cast includes Bryan Hiles as Dame Donna Kebab, Darren King as Long John Slithe and Belinda Henwood as Morgiana the Magnificent. Performances are at 2.30pm Tuesdays to Sundays, with a 7pm performance on Fridays. Tickets range in price from R150 to R230. Booking is at Computicket outlets.
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TELL US ABOUT YOUR TITLE ROLE IN “SINBAD” AND HOW CHALLENGING AND/OR FUN HE MIGHT BE TO PLAY.

Sinbad is a fantastic character to play, as he’s not your traditional fairytale hero. He’s got a passion for adventure and the open sea. He’s also not afraid to mix it up and fight for what he believes in, which gives him a bit of an edge.

The character strikes me as one who would do anything for the ones he loves, no matter how daring or dangerous that may be. It’s quite a physical role, but I’m loving it!

WHY IS THIS PANTO A MUST-SEE FOR PARENTS AND CHILDREN?

It is full of humour for all ages, but it is also very action-packed. The songs are great, the characters range from the hilarious to the delicious to the punchy, and, of course, there is plenty of theatre magic.

This panto definitely has very much its own flavour, so it is one you don’t want to miss!

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE PART OF THE SHOW?

There are so many great parts of this show so it is quite difficult to choose between the music, the dancing, the jokes and the fight scenes.

HOW MANY KICKSTART PANTOS HAVE YOU PERFORMED IN TO DATE – AND WHAT HAS BEEN A FAVOURITE?

This is my sixth KickstArt panto. I think my favourite would be a bit of a toss-up between Puss in Boots and Sinbad. I chose these for a few reasons: The characters, (playing a real idiot in Puss in Boots), the great humour in both pantos, and the fact that both are a bit different from traditional panto stories, each with its own flavour.

HAVE YOU EVER EXPERIENCED ANY MISHAPS WHILE PERFORMING IN PANTO? OR IN ANY OTHER SHOWS?

To be honest, I can’t recall any major mishaps in any of the pantos, but in KickstArt’s Beauty and the Beast I did fall off a tower for real on opening night. Ouch!

WHAT NEXT FOR YOU – AND WHAT OTHER PLANS FOR 2018?

In terms of productions you’ll have to wait and see. In terms of teaching, I am going to be moving schools, as I start as the prep school drama teacher at Reddam House, Umhlanga, from January 2018.

Lyle Buxton – poster shot for Sinbad the Sailor.

HOW HAS YOUR FIRST YEAR OF MARRIAGE BEEN?

Jessie and I have had an amazing few months of marriage, which began with an incredible and memorable honeymoon trip to Greece. We got married on April 8 this year, at Haycroft Country Farm in the Midlands.

HOW HAVE YOU ENJOYED  TEACHING DRAMA…. WHAT CHALLENGES, REWARDS HAS THIS PROVIDED?

I have been teaching for three years at Northlands Primary School. I have taught Grade one to six, as well as done some PE and sports coaching. I have really enjoyed it, and I have learned so much about myself, and about encouraging young people to be confident, to express themselves, and unlock their creativity.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVOURITE SONG, MOVIE, TV SHOW AND ALBUM THIS YEAR?

Say You Won’t Let Go b  James Arthur (although it was released last year, it was the song I sang to my wife at our wedding).

Movie: Logan, although I’m optimistic that may change with The Last Jedi next month.

TV Show: Stranger Things or The Punisher, both on Netflix.

Album: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

WHAT FIVE WORDS BEST DESCRIBE YOU?

Laughs. Fun. Patience. Thinker. Enthusiastic.

WHAT ARE FIVE THINGS ABOUT YOURSELF (HOWEVER TRIVIAL) THAT PEOPLE ARE UNLIKELY TO KNOW?

I am a Beatlemaniac, I love Star Wars, I love sport (especially cricket, rugby and football) I am a huge Manchester United fan, and I have never won at Monopoly.

YOUR MOST EMBARRASSING MOMENT ON STAGE?

Thankfully, I haven’t had too many, but there have been moments… like when I almost tripped on opening night of KickstArt’s Into The Woods, or forgetting the words to a line of a song.

Lyle Buxton as Sinbad.

THE MOST FAMOUS PERSON YOU HAVE MET – AND WHO WOULD YOU GIVE GOLD TO MEET?

AB De Villiers, the cricketer, whom I met a few years ago. He is so humble for such a worldwide superstar of the game. I would give gold to meet Sir Paul McCartney. I mean come on, he’s a living Beatle!

HOBBIES, PASTIMES AND FAVOURITE THINGS?

I really do love sport, and I miss playing cricket and rugby. I also love Star Wars and everything comic superhero. I enjoy road running when I find the time. I also love Les Miserables, pizza and the game Football Manager.

WHAT FIVE THINGS WOULD YOU LIST UNDER ‘VASTLY UNDER-RATED’?

Jason Mraz, the genius that is Stephen Sondheim (underrated and sometimes even unknown locally), the TV series Black Books, the feeling of your toes in the sand at the beach, and “quiet time”.

WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST SURPRISING THING SOMEONE HAS SAID OF YOU?

That I am arrogant. I can’t stand arrogance and would never want to be thought of in that way.

Lyle Buxton… big fan of The Beatles and the Star Wars universe.

WHAT HAS BEEN THE HIGHLIGHT OF YOUR YEAR SO FAR?

This year has been full of ups and downs, but my highlight was Jessie and I moving into our new home.

WHERE WERE YOU BORN – AND WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR MOST MEMORABLE BIRTHDAY?

I was born in good old Durbs, and my most memorable birthday was the most recent one – my 30th. I had a surprise superhero-themed party. It was so special being surprised by so many friends, all dressed up in awesome superhero costumes.

WHAT ARE YOUR VIEWS ON CALLS TO REINTRODUCE THE DEATH PENALTY IN SOUTH AFRICA?

My views on this seem to change day to day. Whilst I do want severe punishment for those individuals who feel like they can take a life, I also feel that maybe it doesn’t serve the greater good of humanity. However, it does act as a deterrent to such people.

I do feel that the current punishment is not enough, and prison for a few years after good behaviour is definitely not the way.

WHAT ARE YOUR FEARS AND PHOBIAS – AND WHY?

Loneliness – I would hate to feel alone with no friends, family or loved ones. I think most people have that one. Also, bees – they sting! And flying cockroaches . Why must they fly?

WHAT IS THE BEST THING YOU CAN COOK?

Vinsanto marinated pork fillets, fava beans, tomato fritters and a proper Greek salad, all traditionally Santorini-style. We learned how to make this meal while on our honeymoon.

WHAT TRAITS DO YOU MOST DISLIKE IN OTHERS?

Arrogance. Aggression. Dishonesty. Laziness.

WHAT ARE TWO OF YOUR MOST TREASURED MATERIAL POSSESSIONS?

My Manchester United jerseys (all of them), and our new couch at home.

IF YOU COULD CHANGE THREE THINGS ABOUT YOURSELF WHAT WOULD THEY BE?

I would definitely change the fact that I overthink things and fret too much.

TWO HIGHLIGHTS OF YOUR CAREER?

There are two roles that come to mind. Playing Gaston in KickstArt’s Beauty and the Beast in 2012 as one. That is one of my favourite musicals and possibly my favourite role to date. Being the baddie is fun.

My other highlight would be playing Shrek in Shrek The Musical, both in Durban and Johannesburg, and being recognised for it. It was a challenging role for many reasons, but I loved every minute of it.

WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE ENSCRIBED ON YOUR TOMBSTONE?

Let It Be.


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