Sometimes evil is just a job | Joe Depasquale

We speak to actor Joe Depasquale ahead of this year’s edition of the MADC panto, as he takes on the role of an evil henchman in RapunzelStiltskin – playing at the MFCC, Ta’ Qali from December 21 to January 5.

Joe Depasquale (far left).
Joe Depasquale (far left).

You served as the principal baddie in a previous panto. Does the 'demotion' to henchman this time around make you feel disappointed? Frustrated? ... Vindictive?

Not at all. This 'demotion', as you put it, only shows how truly open minded my evil self is. I placed myself in the henchman's boots to fully understand what these minions go through every time the villain yells at them or scolds them. Since the last time I was principal baddie I was betrayed by my henchmen, I now try to look at the world from their point of view so that mistakes will not be repeated. And it is only a matter of time until I rise again, just as evil and twice as ugly.

Are you satisfied with the level of wit in Steve Hili's script? Or, like Harrison Ford upon glancing at the script to Star Wars, do you feel compelled to turn to him and say: "Steve, you can type this s**t, but you sure can't say it"? Either way, what does he bring to the experience as a fresh panto writer?

I had already worked with Steve Hili before and I saw what an unrestrained Steve is capable of. When I was informed that he was writing this years panto an image popped into my head in which Steve is typing away and others are standing behind him telling him, "You can't do that" and, "Remember it's a children's show". Seriously though, I think he has done an excellent job of it, as the script is hilarious and well written. Every panto writer has his or her style and direction they want to go in. Steve, being a new panto writer, takes it to a place that few pantos dared go.

How would you compare the behind-the-scenes experience of panto to other productions?

It is completely different. The vibe and energy is almost tangible and whilst in all productions I have been in so far there has been a bond between the cast, in panto it is more of a family feeling, possibly also due to the time of year when panto happens.

Would you say that panto remains a focal point for Maltese actors - both newcomers and veterans? Why do you think this is, and what kind of skills are learnt during panto?

I do think that panto is a focal point for Maltese actors if only for the sheer amount of people who go to see it. While it is a lot of fun, panto also requires a certain amount of discipline and commitment as anyone who has been in Panto can tell you, you pretty much give up your social life for the Christmas period. Still, I think it is all worth it in the end. Panto also gives a hint of a taste of what life would be like in a long running production as it is the show that has the longest run in Malta.

What can audiences expect from this edition of the panto?

Expect the unexpected and you will still be surprised. Expect laughs, colourful characters, a great story, a good time and then more.

And finally... how will you deal with any hecklers in the audience?

Steve Casaletto, the director, assured me that I will be wielding a rather large club.

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