THE pirates are back at Weymouth Pavilion for their sixth summer season of Pirates of the Pavilion. Director LEE REDWOOD and cast tell JOANNA DAVIS what to expect from this year's swashbuckling adventure.

NOTHING now says summer like Weymouth Pavilion's summer pantomime.

The popular Pirates of the Pavilion has now become a regular fixture at the seaside resort theatre and attracts holidaymakers and locals alike.

Now back for its sixth year, the cast got together for the panto's official launch and took the opportunity to chat about what the audience can expect.

Lee Redwood of Made-to-Measure Productions, is the panto's director, writer and producer and also oversees Weymouth Pavilion's well loved Christmas pantos.

He said 'Pirates' is so unique because every year it tells a different story and this year it will take the cast to Egypt.

The famous pirate crew will set sail for Egypt in a mission to return the Ribena Ruby to its rightful place, deep within the tomb of Pharaoh Rocher! But it's not all plain sailing as the Ruby holds untold magical powers and villains from all around the world are desperate to get their hands on it.

Lee said: "The summer panto offers something different for the summer season. The Christmas panto has become quite well known in the local area and this offers something different for people. It has high quality production values and we don't skimp on anything. We have fantastic costumes and special effects.

"I've spent the whole year writing the panto and honing it to perfection. The Christmas panto sticks to a traditional panto storyline and you have a rough idea of what happens with the story but this one features characters coming back each year with a new story."

The special effects in this year's Pirates of the Pavilion are better than ever, Lee says.

Once again Dorset firm The Twins FX of Wareham have worked their magic on the production. Look out for a 5 metre tall animatronic gorilla on stage this year, which has been built by the Pharoah outside his pyramid to ward off any thieves.

And Pirates of the Pavilion is aimed at holidaymakers, locals, children and adults alike - with plenty of 'insider Weymouth' references once again stuffed into the script.

Lee said: "Of course we've got the jokes in about the fairy lights and the lasers on the seafront once again. We always like the local references and the story starts off as the setting of 'ye olde Wyke Regis'.

Liam Mellor travels further than the average actor to take to the stage. He'll be journeying down from the north eastern seaside town of Redcar, near Darlington, to assume his role as Seadog Billy in the panto. This will be his third appearance in Pirates of the Pavilion.

Liam said: "It can be a six hour journey to drive down but it's nice that it's in the summer so when I set off at 5am it's light."

"Redcar where I live is a seaside town so it's going from one in the north to one in the south. I think of Weymouth as my summer house. My wife always jokes when I come back that I've been on holiday. But I say 'no, I have been working!'

"Pirates is one of the shows you want to be part of. We're a bit like a family together."

Liam describes his character as 'stupid': "Billy's a comedy character who's always getting things wrong.

"The reason why I became a comic is to make people laugh. I play Seadog Billy like he's a child. Everything that comes out of his mouth is child like."

Liam has been acting for 14 years and appears in pantos year-round.

Tegan Jones of Bournemouth studied musical theatre at university

She dons some sparkly glittery make-up for her role as good fairy Spirit of the Seas.

Tegan said: "My character the Spirit of the Seas is magical but she's very official. "She's really lovely but she's very uptight."

Tegan is returning to the panto for a third year and is pleased to be spending some time at home in Dorset, having travelled the world performing in productions on cruise ships.

"It's nice to come back and see the same people," she said.

"We're like a little family now and everyone gets on so well. It doesn't feel like work."

Tegan's character performs a tap dance in the panto - something she says she is looking forward to in every performance.

Teenager Alex Rogan, 17, of Weymouth's WOW musical youth theatre is assuming his first professional role in the panto.

He's playing the evil Captain Cutlass, who's attempting to steal the ruby.

Alex said: "I've been with WOW since I was eight or nine. It was something my parents got me into. I used to be quite sporty when I was younger but now my first love is acting.

"I enjoy being the panto villain and I don't mind the boos - I love them. I was quite recently the Child Catcher in WOW's Chitty Chitty Bang Bang so this has been good preparation for that."

Having performed in amateur productions, this will be Budmouth College student Alex's first professional role.

He said: "I'm really lucky with this because the cast are so friendly and have made me feel so welcome. I think the panto is going to be a lot of fun to be in."

Rob Squire, of Exeter, plays Captain Cutlass, the ship's captain

"This is my fifth year of doing it. It's great to work with people who get along together so well. It's quite interesting for my character this year because everyone has to come and save me."

And Rob is looking forward to singing two songs in the panto.

He said: "The ongoing joke is that whenever the singing starts I'm normally leaving the ship! But I have two songs to do this year with Liam.

"A lot of the time my character is the butt of the joke. He has a good partnership with Seadog Billy and that's good because I get on well with Liam."

Rob says the magic of panto keeps him coming back year after year.

"I enjoy seeing he kids' faces and the smile on their face when they leave. It's quite an honour for us because for may of the children it's their first experience of the theatre and we want to keep them coming back."

*Pirates of the Pavilion, Weymouth Pavilion, continuing on selected dates until Wednesday, August 28. See for performance dates and times.