You couldn’t take your eyes off him. Not for one second.
It was the Gilbert and Sullivan shows that I first saw him in. I was only 7 when Pirates of Penzance toured the country in 1994. I barely knew what a musical was, I just knew we were going to see some show about pirates. Twenty-two years on, I don’t remember much about the show.
And his face. Cheeky, before he’d even opened his mouth. He’d look at the audience, slightly raise his eyebrows, and they’d be in stitches.
You always felt as though you were personally sharing a joke, just you and him, because his cheeky crooked smile was pointing right at you.
See Jon English here in one of his most iconic roles – as the Pirate King from the Pirates of Penzance:
He was oddly sexy. That’s not something I noticed as a child, but all the women around me did, and when I saw him in shows once I’d grown up, I understood. Was it the swagger? Maybe. The hair, perhaps? The only man who could work a mullet? He was usually taller than anyone on the stage, maybe that was it. Or maybe it was the fact that, somehow, he could make tight purple pants with knee-high leather boots look less ‘Pirate’, and more ‘Rock God’ – I remember when he pulled his shirt open to show off his chest, and all the women squealed with delight.