An Aberdeen-born actor is making his return to the city this Christmas to star in the His Majesty’s Theatre panto, The Pantomime Adventures of Peter Pan – and he’s taken on a charity chest wax to get into character.
Michael Karl-Lewis, who was born in Aberdeen and now lives in London, has returned to his hometown to portray the namesake character in the HMT show this festive season.
The 24-year-old actor will play ‘the boy who never grows up’ and decided his hairy chest didn’t quite fit the character brief.
Yesterday (Wednesday November 23), Michael took a break from rehearsals – with his fellow cast members cheering him on – to have his chest hair removed with hot wax.
Co-star Brendan Cole of Strictly Come Dancing fame, who will play Captain Hook in the production, got involved too, ripping off strips of the wax and encouraging Michael in his effort.
Michael explained how the idea came about: “On our press launch day in Aberdeen when the cast were all in costume, something occurred to me,” he said.
“I am playing Peter Pan and I have a carpet of hair on my chest! I thought to myself, I can’t very well play the boy who never grows up with such a hairy chest, so it will have to go.”
Michael had his chest waxed by beautician therapist Trish Saunders of Heavenly Beauty, who gifted her time and expertise to allow Michael to maximise his fundraising.
Having never experienced the pain of waxing before, Michael wanted to make the effort worth his while, and decided to turn his character preparation into a good deed for a charity he and his family hold dear, Friends of ANCHOR.
Michael’s mum Donna has supported the local cancer and haematology charity for many years, volunteering at events and in the fundraising office for the past five years, as well as fundraising personally. She gives her support in memory of her sister Lynn, Michael’s auntie, who passed away in 2002 aged 39, from a rare form of blood cancer.
Michael’s fundraising has so far amassed over £500 including gift aid, with the funds going to Friends of ANCHOR’s current appeal to raise £2m for The ANCHOR Centre, due to open next year in Aberdeen.
Michael added: “The ANCHOR Centre will provide excellent care for people in the North-east of Scotland and what Friends of ANCHOR is doing will enhance that even further with upgraded fixtures, equipment and enhancements that will make the building feel less clinical and daunting.
“My mum has supported the charity for several years and I’m pleased to now be paying a small part in this important fundraising too.”
Erica Banks, Communications Lead for Friends of ANCHOR, said: “Christmas is the season of giving, and Michael’s fundraising certainly encapsulates that sentiment. He was a great sport yesterday and handled the pain of the hot wax with gritted teeth and plenty of humour.
“We’re very grateful for his heartfelt support, which he’s directing to our ANCHORED Together appeal which will make a positive impact in the lives of the 65,000 local people who are estimated to walk through the doors of The ANCHOR Centre each year.
“We hope Aberdeen gives Michael a very warm welcome home when he takes to the stage from December 3.”
Rachel Campbell, Communications Officer for Aberdeen Performing Arts, added: “Friends of ANCHOR are an incredible local charity and we are so proud of Michael for supporting them in this way. He clearly shares his qualities of bravery and generosity with his panto alter ego! Thank you to everyone who has shown their support.”
To read more or donate, Michael’s online fundraising page can be viewed here: Michael Lewis is fundraising for Friends of ANCHOR (justgiving.com)
Michael will share the stage with Strictly star Brendan Cole as Captain Hook, with panto dame extraordinaire Alan McHugh playing Dame Maggie Celeste. River City star Paul J Corrigan will bring the laughs as Smee, while fellow Aberdonians Danielle Jam and Beth Nicholson will play Tinkerbell and Wendy respectively.
The show begins on Saturday December 3 and runs to Sunday January 8, with tickets available from www.aberdeenperformingarts.com