Home is where the art is for panto baron

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It’s more than 30 years since Richard Colson moved to Chesterfield.

“I bought a four-bedroomed house in Newbold,” he recalled. “Property was unbelievably cheap, and Chesterfield is so central and convenient – close to the M1, two hours from London on the train. I rented theatrical digs to young actors, and a lot of them moved up here as well!”

Like many actors, he’s in pantomime most years, and this year he plays Baron Hardup in Cinderella at Mansfield’s Palace Theatre – close enough to home to sleep in his own bed every night.

“I do enjoy panto. I played Hardup last year too, in Blackpool.”

Much of Richard’s long career has been on stage, including frequent appearances at the Pomegranate in the 1980s before moving on to his first love: musical comedy.

What were the high spots of those years?

“It’s hard to choose, but I’d have to say Me and My Girl in the West End, and two years touring in Beauty and the Beast. We travelled the length and breadth of Great Britain and Ireland, and also went abroad several times: Athens, Malta, Kuala Lumpur. That was wonderful: five-star hotels, and evening performances left the days free to explore – almost like a paid holiday!”

The acting profession always has something new to offer, and last year Richard appeared in his first major movie: Les Miserables.

“It was a very interesting experience: four days’ filming, the ensemble number Master of the House, with Helena Bonham-Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen.”

Does Richard have plans to retire? “Not at all,” he said. “I plan to carry on until the phone stops ringing!”

Cinderella is at Mansfield Palace until January 5.