How long did you have to rehearse the show? "About three weeks, which isn't a huge length of time, but everyone was very committed to the show, and there's been a great energy about rehearsals — which is reflected in the performance on stage."
Is this a traditional Peter Pan or a modern make-over? "It's quite traditional, and tastefully done! We've got a very strong creative team — Styles and Drewe on the music and lyrics, Willis Hall on the book, and, of course, James Barrie's original story is a classic."
Did you do much research on Barrie and the background to the piece? "I read Andrew Birkin's book — "The Lost Boys" — about Barrie and his relationship with Llewellyn Davies family, on whose sons he based Peter. It's a lovely story, but a tragic one — there was a lot of tragedy in the family.
"James Barrie had a strange upbringing himself, and was quite a dark character, but his writings are wonderful, and Peter Pan's been a national favorite since he first wrote it.
"Actually, although it makes a great Christmas show, and Captain Hook's a marvelous villain in that sort of pantomime tradition, and there's the crocodile to frighten the children — and we have a fabulous crocodile in this production — I don't see why Peter Pan only really gets done as a Christmas show. "I know it tours in the United States quite a lot, and it would be fun to do a tour in Britain, or a long run in London — why restrict it to Christmas? Peter is a great part, and it would nice to do it for longer!"
You generally play young parts. . . "Yes, I look younger than I am, especially on stage, so I tend to play angst-ridden teenagers..."
Do you have any other parts you'd really like to play? "I'm very lucky in that I've played a number of the parts that I've always wanted to, including Peter in Peter Pan. I'm a singer as well as an actor — tell the public to buy my CD! — and this is a musical version, so I get some good songs, especially one called 'One Big Adventure.'
"So although I'd like to do more 'straight acting' eventually, I still enjoy musical theatre, and the role I'd probably most like is that of another boy who doesn't want to grow up — the title part in Billy."
James Gillan is starring as Peter in Peter Pan - A Musical Adventure at the Royal Festival Hall until Jan. 11, 2003.