Is it tough writing a Christmas panto during the summer months? It's Christmas all year, it never stops.

Why did you choose Hansel and Gretel for this year's panto? We had lots of debates. We loved doing an original show last year ('Sergeant Cracker's Christmas Quest'), but everyone felt the public needed a title they recognise. Initially we dismissed Hansel and Gretel - when you read the original it's dark, really dark. But I came up with the idea to make it Christmas-themed as well as fun and family friendly.

Does that rely on humour and music to lighten the Brothers Grimm tale? Yeah, as well as some basic tweaks in the storyline so it wasn't quite as violent.

As writer and director, how do you keep your vision of the panto while collaborating with others to make it all happen? It's definitely a team effort. You have to listen to what everyone wants, most importantly the audiences. You gather all the ideas together, mix them up then present them back to them. It's a bit like baking a cake!

How are rehearsals doing? I've been rehearsing with the Children who are in Hansel and Gretel for the last month every weekend, and the actors last Monday...I'm very excited.

What role do the kids have? The children are very important in Hansel and Gretel because the whole story is about them because they are the ones that get kidnapped by the witch and get turned into gingerbread men. It's all about Hansel and Gretel rescuing them.

Is the Carnegie Hall as a venue important to the show? It's such a beautiful venue and it's a pleasure to play there. They have been decorating the foyer with a Hansel and Gretel theme with all sorts of sweeties. Walking through the foyer is like walking through a box of Quality Street. It's wonderful.

How difficult is it to put together a panto on such a big scale? There's a lot of pressure on you, because you have to deliver. But as soon as you enter rehearsals it becomes a big collaborative process, which is great. The script that goes into the rehearsal room is never the one that comes out at the other end. The really exciting thing about Hansel and Gretel is the amount of special effects we have. I wanted to make it a really visual show. We have snow falling in the auditorium and it's in smellyvision. We even have a magic consultant this year, who is producing magic tricks on stage. That's exciting I can't even tell you what they are because I'm not allowe to tell you - he's a member of the magic circle who will only share the trick with the actress and the stage manager!

Hansel and Gretel is at the Carmegie Hall from Friday until 24th December. Box office: 602302.