Image credit: Tommy Ga-Ken Wan
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Day in a life of a panto dame

6 mins read

Brian James O’Sullivan, 37, became a viral sensation on TikTok with his Glaswegian characters Janice and Frank. O’Sullivan’s acting career began at age nine by playing Oliver at the London Palladium. Since then, he has written his own musical, toured Australia, the USA and the UK and brought Janice and Frank to the stage. He is now starring in the title role as the Dame in Maw Goose at Macrobert Arts Centre for their annual Pantomime.

“My dog Fenway goes out on the dot at eight o’clock every morning. I’ve only had the dog for four weeks, but already it’s changed everything. I’m up at the same time every morning, which has never been the case for me.

I’m not a big breakfast person. I never have coffee first thing in the day, I always have tea because I like to start gently. I tend to be the type of person where the morning is not a big feature. Not a lot happens inside my head or outside of it. So, because I’m up early with the dog, the rest of the morning is quite slow.

Being at the theatre an hour before is fine. I’m not one for being there hours beforehand. But then, when it comes to Panto, it takes longer because there’s makeup and frocks and things like that. So, I’ll probably be a wee bit earlier than usual.

I had a meeting the other day with the wardrobe supervisor, and she asked me what I wanted to do for makeup. That is not my forte, I don’t have great coordination and all that. So, she’s going to help me try things out. We’re going to have sort of a diagram that I’ll follow.

Macrobert pantomime maw goose
Brian becoming Maw Goose. Image credit: Brian Hartley at Macrobert Arts Centre

I tend to get ready at the same time before the show. The last big show I was doing, was The Stamping Ground. We had a routine in our dressing room where we got ready at the five-minute call. I like routine and there’s very little of it in my life. So, when I’m doing a job and it has a routine, I really enjoy it because it’s rare for me.

My eating habits depend on what food is available where I am. If I’m working in a city centre, and there are loads of options, I’ll eat out at a different place every day. Health doesn’t really factor into it that much with me until I get super rundown. Then I just go searching for broccoli.

[After the show] I often find myself sitting in the dressing room. Before I get changed, just like taking a minute. That can be five or ten minutes sometimes. Less and less as the years go on, would I go out front or go to a bar or any place like that. I would rather like go with a pal to get a chippy or, you know, just go home and put the TV on and just be quiet.

I am, as of very recently, a lover of jigsaws; I’ve just started this jigsaw challenge with my aunt and we’re both doing a 1000-piece jigsaw. But we’re putting the exact same amount of hours into it. We’re timing ourselves when we’re doing it and we’re going to see who completes theirs first.

Once it gets dark, my mind starts to wake up a wee bit. Right at the moment where I might go to bed, I start working. So, I go to sleep at midnight or later. I’m trying to be better because of the dog. But again, I don’t really sit down and stop doing stuff till nine or ten sometimes. So suddenly it’s midnight. And I’m like, I’ve got more to do!”

Words of Wisdom

The best advice I was given:

“What other people think of me is none of my business.”

The advice I’d give:

“You can try your best to please everybody. You can do everything perfectly and still, you will displease somebody. If that’s true, then you might as well forget the whole thing and enjoy yourself.”

What I wish I’d known:

“I wish I had understood a bit more about how our business works.”

Brian will be performing in Macrobert’s Maw Goose from December 1 to December 31. Tickets are still available at Macrobert Arts Centre,

Featured Image Credit: Brian Hartley at Macrobert Arts Centre

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Film and Tv Editor at Brig Newspaper. Currently studying Journalism and English at the University of Stirling

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