The Lythgoe Family Panto put on its own production of Peter Pan: A Pirate’s Christmas during the 2017 Christmas season! In the European tradition of Panto, the show was adapted with a modern music twist that really connected with audiences. Panto itself goes back to the times of Shakespeare where audiences were involved with the performances. This style of theater is more recently becoming popular in America. GeekRockTV interviewed the show’s Captain Hook, Mark Ryan, about his role as the villainous pirate and his various projects.
Mark Ryan has been on the TV screen in shows like Black Sails, and he has also been a voice actor for famous characters from The Transformers franchise! From the stage to the screen, fans of Ryan are excited for his work in Peter Pan: A Pirate’s Christmas.
Ryan said that his character Hook is a type of villain that people love to hate. As a classic role that has been adapted in various ways throughout the years, Ryan said he enjoyed getting to play such a baddie. His favorite songs to perform in the show were “Crazy” and “Hooked” on a Feeling as they were both very characteristic of the infamous Captain Hook.
Of all the versions of Peter Pan, the classic Disney animation was a personal favorite for Ryan though he appreciates the depth of such a tale. While kids may see singing and lively musical numbers of an adventurous tale, adults can connect with the deeper message of a loss of childhood as one grows up.
Host: It’s Mark Ryan, and he is playing the pirate this year!
Mark: Thank you for having me. I’m playing THE pirate. Captain Hook.
Host: What’s it like to play a role like Captain Hook?
Mark: Wow. Captain Hook is one of those characters, not just in British literature, but in Panto, it’s one of those great roles to get your teeth into and play with. IT’s one of those baddies like the Sheriff of Knottingham, or any of those characters. They’re characters that people love to hate, to me. So it’s a part of the reason why it’s so great to play, and Panto is one of those great traditions, that happen not only in Britain but it’s spreading all over the world.
Host: And for those that aren’t familiar with Lythgoe productions, can you give them a little overview of what Panto is?
Mark: Panto theater is a little over 300 years old, it goes back to Shakespeare times. Where audiences weren’t only able to participate in the show itself, it was very much audience participation. They were allowed to scream and shout and be involved with the actual show. So when Henry the V makes his famous speech, people got up and cheered and shouted and hollered at the stage. Sometimes even got on the stage. There’s a lot of interaction with other British theater. So Panto is kind of the remnants of that. The essence of Panto itself, is a morality play if you look at all of them. They all have a little moral tale that’s in them. Peter Pan certainly has. All about good triumphs over evil. All the Pantos have that edge of a moralistic tale.
Host: What was your experience of Peter Pan growing up?
Mark: I saw Peter Pan growing up as a pantomime, I remember as a child screaming and shouting as Tinkerbell’s light is fading. I remember screaming “I believe in fairies” and it hasn’t really changed. So that was one of my first experiences of Peter Pan as a child and not understanding why Peter Pan could fly. I couldn’t see the wires. It was just that Peter Pan was flying. One of my first PP experiences as a professional was in Cinderella, one of the chorus boys in the back of the show, understudying a very popular British comedian. So I had to study this guy’s work and he never went off, thank goodness. Billy Dainty is his name. I know he’s up there watching me now saying he somehow made a career out of this.
Host: What was your favorite Peter Pan adaptation?
Mark: Wow, I think possibly the classic animation still is. Peter Pan is a very interesting and dark tale when you read the book. There’s so many layers to the story and that’s why it lends itself to Panto. You know, parents get it on one level. You want to get it for just the music, singing, and dancing. And the kids are getting it on a completely different level. It’s a multi-level story as well as it being entertaining and musical. But woven within this tale for adults is a very interesting journey. About the loss of childhood, basically and a boy that never wants to grow up.
Host: Thank you so much Disney for never letting our imagination go, during our childhood. You have quite the musical number during this play, can you tell us a little bit about that?
Mark: Well I like Crazy, because it sums up Captain Hook obviously. Hooked on a Feeling is great as well. Both numbers for me. There are some beautiful songs in the show. Everybody does a great job in the show singing these beautiful songs.
Host: Being Captain Hook, I see an interesting connection. I mean you’ve been on Black Sails and how has that experience helped you with this show?
Mark: Well Black Sails was kind of unique television experience that I was involved with. WE shot in Cape Town South Africa, we had two full sized galleons built in a tank at Cape Town Studios. And when you stand on the boat looking out you believe that all that water is there. On one side we look out and there was the airport with 747’s and on the other side was a freeway. On this side you looked out and there was the African plains. So, all of this water and the water in the tank you see were painted by the special effects guys under the supervision of Michael Bay. Michael brought all of his special effects guys to this and they were fantastic. It’s difficult to synthesize an ocean. It was great to do, a great cast. It was a wonderful six months.
Host: Speaking of Michael Bay, I notice you don’t have your yellow hair on. So is there anything yellow we can transform you back into Bumblebee? We got a chance to see you here as Captain Hook, but is there any other projects that you’ve been working on?
Mark:We had great fun on the last one. For me it was great to work with someone like Anthony Hopkins. We met in 1981 and he is an absolute diamond of a man to work with. He kept saying, Tony just call me Tony. Every morning he would say Mark here, come here, dear boy! He was absolutely wonderful to work with. You know, Michael again doesn’t get enough [credit] for what he’s done in the industry. He has employed thousands of people in the industry and has kept us going for decades. And really the advances we have made in 3D and filmmaking, Michael has pushed the envelope more than anyone I’d seen. So, shout-out to Michael!
Host: Yes, shout out to Michael! Of course, your voice was the most iconic part of that franchise as well.
Mark: I was lucky to get to be everybody. I was Optimus, Megatron, everybody. As well as Bumblebee. So, I was very lucky to endure for the past 10 years.
Host: Are there any other projects that you’ve been working on?
Mark: There’s a development for another film to come out. I know there’s a Bumblebee movie in the works. Then there may be another big Transformers coming out. Don’t take my word for it.
Host: And are you going to be in it?
Mark: I’m sure if they invite me I’ll have to throw my hat into the mix. But straight after this we’ll be making a film about MMA fighters in the underground fighting world. Pretty much right after Christmas we’ll be working on Street 2. I believe it’s a director I’ve worked with previously called Dwight Little. I’ve worked with in Phantom of the Opera in 1997 in Budapest I think. With Freddie Kruger playing Phantom of the Opera!
Host: The best combo, the best mashup! I think I noticed something on your Facebook the other day. Pilgrims. Are we seeing any updates?
Mark: Oh The Pilgrim. I’d love to get The Pilgrim back into production. If anyone is out there and wants to pick it back up. We never got to finish the series, and it was really sad for me because it was something that took a really long time to develop. And Grelli and I and the company that was producing it struck it financially so that was it. So, the rights are reverted and I do have an idea to revamp the series and put it back into production. Because Mike Grelli’s artwork, the whole logo and everything that he did was so fantastic. With the colors and everything, he’s such a good artist. And I do want to pick it back up. There is an idea to follow up and finish out that one, as well as take it on to the next story.
Host: How has voice acting changed and enriched your life both as an actor and as a person?
Mark: I didn’t set out to be a voice actor, I got into it by accident. The one thing I can tell you we were all sitting in an interview once, and a lot of voice actors were there. One thing that we found in common was that we were all musical. And I think it has to do with cadence and volume and the use in music how you use your voice as a singer and where to put the emphasis on certain words and punch out certain things. We all had a musical background and I think that helped me out a lot as a voice actor. But I think I got transformed as much with the fact that I understood so much of the technical side of it because I had done work as a sword-master behind the scenes with King Arthur and stuff like that. So I understood how the camera moves, the lighting, the effects, the CGI, stuff like that. So really, working with Michael was a pleasure. It wasn’t difficult to me. I was able to visualize. Any set we were in, I could see where the robots were and what they were doing. So I was able to visually in my brain, plant them, wherever we were, I’m able to see the robots in my visual cortex, but overlaying the scene we were playing into. It’s a weird little skill I suppose.
Host: Well Mark, that’s why we love you! You’re the jack of a trades! We wish we could talk with you even more but we know you have a show to get back to! I appreciate so much. Are there any words you’d like to say to everyone?
Mark: Yes! Come and see the show! It’s family entertainment, you are allowed to scream and show. And as Captain Hook I invite you to tell me that you love me! I know you do! So you will join int eh show and you will be able to scream and shout with people on the stage. It’s all a part of the entertainment so come and see the show at the Balboa Theater in San Diego! Singing, dancing, swordfights, fairies, what more could you want?
Host: What more could you want? If you believe in magic you should definitely come check out this show. And who doesn’t love Peter Pan?
Dates: December 2 – December 24, 2017
Official Website: www.AmericanPanto.com
Social Media Pages:
Kelsea Villaneuva| Writing Contributor & Transcriber
B.A | Communications | University of San Francisco
Kelsea has always been a fiction enthusiast, whether that be in the stories she read or the movies she watched. Growing up her knack for daydreaming and passion for creating led her to art and writing. These hobbies turned into a way for her to share the things that she loves with the world. From fan fiction to newspaper articles, she enjoys translating her thoughts and observations onto paper. She was Editor-in-Chief of her school paper and wrote a plethora of articles throughout the 3 years she did Journalism. She has also interned for an online beauty blog, Mocha Girl Beauty, where she produced online content. As a communications major and journalism minor at the University of San Francisco, she hopes to use her skills to let people know about what’s happening online and around the world. Instagram @Im_kelpsea| View My Blogs
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