Why Aliens Love Underpants actor Tom Allenby feels like Harry Styles
Why Tom Allenby, lead actor in the play based on the popular picture book is all excited about bringing the show to the UAE
THEATRE LOVERS OF all ages will doubtless be thrilled to know that Art For All, a provider for educational theatre in the UAE, is bringing West End extravaganza Aliens Love Underpants to Dubai and Abu Dhabi. A classic children’s story, adapted from the popular picture book by authors Claire Freedmand and Ben Cort, it has been brought to life by theatre company, Big Wooden Horse. Aliens Love Underpants is described as “a zany tale that is both hilarious and rather silly (in the best possible way) the story centers on little Timmy who witnesses aliens pinching underpants from the washing line!”
City Times caught up with Tom Allenby, who plays Timmy, to get the low-down on this ‘Paaaaantastic Party of Pants Pandemonium’.
How do you feel about bringing Aliens Love Underpants to the UAE?
I couldn’t be any more excited to bring the show to the UAE, and it will be a real privilege to perform it for you! I think audiences, both parents and children alike, are going to have a Paaaaantastic Party of Pants Pandemonium…what more could you ask for?!
Have you been to the UAE before?
No, I’ve never travelled to your part of the world before, and that’s a real perk of being an actor – sometimes you get the opportunity to travel to locations you wouldn’t usually do so! I can’t wait to visit the UAE, and even though we’re not with you for too long, we’re going to try and fit in as many trips and experience as much of the culture as we can. Please recommend to us places we should visit when we see you – desert safari, the water park and the skiing looks so fun!
Aliens Love Underpants is a popular picture book for children. What are the challenges of bringing a children’s picture book to the stage?
I think you’ve hit the nail on the head with what the biggest challenge is – that it’s such a popular book, and we want our audiences to enjoy our stage version just as much as the book, if not more so! The sounds and voices we have chosen, and that are in our imagination for these characters, might not be the same as the one’s when you read the book. But then that’s the beauty of theatre, and great stories, isn’t it; each person can get lost in a different world in a different way from the person next to them, but still have a wonderful time!
The show is described as an interactive, hilarious, silly adventure suited to both kids and adults - tell us why you enjoy being part of it.
You’re answering these questions yourself …you don’t need me at all haha. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be part of an interactive, hilarious and silly adventure…that sounds like the most fun you can possibly have…and you’d be right! But there’s more than just fun in this show, and I think that’s why it’s really clever, because whether you’re 6, or 66, there’s so much you can take away with you.
Who wouldn’t want to be part of an interactive, hilarious and silly adventure.” Tom Allenby
How has the audience response been so far to the show?
The show has been on in London for a couple of months now, and audiences have really loved it. There is one standout moment, which happened last Saturday. The kids in the audience were so invested in the story and were trying to help out my character, “Timmy”, that they started to get on stage with me! I’ve never had that happen before, but it proves how exciting this story is – the audience was literally on the edge of their seats! I felt like Harry Styles…
What are the major differences between acting on stage and on screen?
That’s a very difficult question! From the experiences I’ve had so far, I’d say the main difference is in the type of concentration that is needed, and energy. For instance, when filming, you might be told to get to set at 9am, but not actually film your scene until 5pm, and so you have to maintain that concentration and energy all day, usually on your own. Whereas with acting on stage, you know you have to be at the theatre an hour before the performance, give everything you’ve got for 2 hours, and then you can rest. You’ve also got the support and the energy of your other cast members, so it feels much more like a team performance.
Tell us about your favourite memory from a stage performance.
Last year I played Romeo in Romeo and Juliet in Stratford Upon Avon where Shakespeare was born – that performance is one that will live long in the memory.
This play is very different from your earlier theatre roles which were of a more serious nature – Romeo, Duke Orsino and Fred & Young Scrooge – what was it like doing a comedy?
Yes this is a bit different from those roles, but what I would say is that those stories and those characters are only serious because of the comedy and lightness in them. For example Romeo and Juliet is as much a comedy as it is a tragedy. And so on the face of it this show is a “comedy”, and kids and adults alike will laugh their socks off, but there are also some serious themes and questions, and it makes the story even more entertaining… see if you can spot them!
Whether you’re 6, or 66, there’s so much you can take away with you (from this play).” Tom Allenby