PANTO dame Christian Patterson has plenty of sympathy for female followers of fashion, given the pain he goes through during each performance wearing size 11 high heels, writes Adam King (pictured below).
“I would not want to be a woman for the high heels alone, they are horrible things and I think they were invented by a man,” he tells me as he gets ready for his next performance in the Waterside’s Dick Whittington.
And, having tried on his man-sized footwear (which bizarrely always seem to originate from Germany) myself, I can vouch for him – they are hideously uncomfortable.
However, painful shoes are just the tip of it for Christian.
It takes him as long as 40 minutes to transform into Sarah the Cook.
Firstly, he applies copious amounts of make-up and attaches fake eye lashes.
“I think this should be taught at drama college, especially to the ample figured man who is more often or not going to play the dame,” he says.
Then he puts on the fat suit to transform his ‘ample’ figure into the comically obese dame.
He looks like Bubbles DeVere from Little Britain.
“The fat suit is to give me some sort of feminine shape, which is a laugh – to give me hips and a chest.”
It is also extremely heavy, which takes it toll on Christian during the performance.
“It’s boiling up on stage. The amount of water I have to drink is staggering – I go through about four litres a day. As well as putting on the costumes, the girls backstage also give me a drink of water, but it’s never too cold because cold water is not great for your voice.”
During the panto Christian rattles through 12 hilarious costumes, costing nearly £30,000.
Changing in and out of the clothes backstage is a fine-tuned operation, with the quickest turn-around needed in under a minute.
“It’s exactly like a pitstop,” he says.
He is assisted by two wardrobe assistants – including the beautifully named Boadicea Rose – who help him dress as well as maintaining the expensive costumes.
“They get ripped all the time and we repair them,” says Boadicea.
But the hard work off-stage has certainly paid off on it, with Christian’s hilarious routine wowing both fans and critics.
So people will be pleased to learn that he would love to return to panto at the Waterside after Dick Whittington ends on Saturday.
“I would love to come back, you can really start to establish rapport with the audience. I would love it to be next year – the sooner the better.
“There are not many buildings you walk up to as beautiful on the outside as the Waterside and there is a great team here.”