We spoke to Glaswegian actor Robert McNeilly about his role as Saint Nick in Santa Claus and the Night Before Christmas and found out how he will begin his own celebrations this year…

Tell us about the show

A young girl called Emily is questioning whether or not she believes in Santa, she tries to stay awake to see him but has no luck and falls asleep. Of course when she falls asleep is when Santa comes. Santa makes it his mission to prove to her that he’s real so he flies her up the chimney onto the rooftops of Watford. It is a series of events that leas t Santa being stuck in the chimney so they have to call on the help of Santa’s elves and navigator, a talking deer called Muffin. It is a lot of fun, eventually Santa gets on his way.

There’s a lot of great moments for the kids, lovely moments where we can interact with bubbles or snow. There is a lot for the adults as well, there’s some nice little jokes that the adults will get.

Watford Observer:

(Photo by Craig Sugden)

Is it interactive?

Absolutely. You’ve still got classic panto lines. There’s always something to grab the kids’ attention. It’s very different from panto, but still has all the elements you like.

What’s your favourite line from the show?

“Don’t touch the pistol. Leave the pistol alone.”

Is there a different atmosphere in Christmas productions than others?

Christmas is a time of year when it doesn’t matter what’s happened that year, it brings people together and there’s a lovely feel in the air and I think you get that experience. Especially with the kids when they come and see the show.

You see families going to the theatre. It doesn’t happen a lot these days. It’s nice to see that sort of thing.

Tell us about your background as an actor

I’m from Glasgow, I moved down to London about five-years-ago and trained at the London School of Musical Theatre. I did a couple of off West End jobs, then I went off and sang on cruise ships for two years. It was a lot of fun, I travelled the world and got to sing every night but I missed the acting side of things so I came back in October and this role came up. It’s been great fun.

How will you be celebrating Christmas?

I will be celebrating on a Megabus back to Scotland from 11pm on Christmas Eve, after our last show. I will arrive in Glasgow at 7am. I might fall asleep in my Christmas dinner but you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. I get to spend it with my family. Then I’ll spend New Year there and probably head back to London in the beginning of January.

Watford ColosseumRickmansworth Road, Watford, WD17 3JN, until Saturday, December 24. Details: 01923 571 102