Bass-baritone Ben Mingay likens a symphony orchestra to securing a specialist to do a job, where there is never any question about the quality of musicianship and sound you are going to experience. So when West Australian Symphony Orchestra invited Mingay back to Perth — after collaborating in Disco Wonderland, WA Opera’s Sweeney Todd and with his musical theatre swinging super group Swing On This — to perform in its Lotterywest Christmas Spectacular at RAC Arena on December 9, he jumped at the chance. Singer and actor Mingay (Packed to the Rafters, Wonderland and House of Bond) is one of an all-star cast, including Sophie Foster, Prudence Sanders, Gina Williams, Guy Ghouse and host Genevieve McCarthy, who will perform festive family favourites, season hits and Christmas movie songs with the WASO Chorus and orchestra, led by WASO’s newly appointed associate conductor Jen Winley. “I’m a massive Hans Zimmer fan and I love all his orchestrations where it just always feels like I’m on a movie set or I’m in a soundtrack, and there’s just violins playing and horns tooting, which is just awesome,” Mingay says. “I love all the pop stuff and the classics, but I do like some of those traditional kind of hymn-type Christmas songs because I went to a religious school when I was younger. Not that we were religious, but Mum and Dad wanted to send me to a school that happened to be chapel twice a week and on weekends. “The music master was my house master as well, because it was a boarding school, and he used to really enthusiastically get into all the hymns and the Christmas songs on the organ. There’s something about it that I really enjoyed. I’ve told him recently that he was one of the reasons I got into singing.” Mingay moved from Sydney back to his hometown of Newcastle when COVID-19 hit, these days finding himself settled in Coal Point on Lake Macquarie. When we speak he is a little further north for the Walcha Motorcycle Rally, organised by his sister, who has roped him into MCing and racing for the past couple of years. It seems a world away from a sophisticated symphony orchestra stage as he dons a flanno shirt and horned helmet for the event. Mingay is the youngest of five siblings, giving him an edge when it came to choosing who would put the star on top of their Christmas tree each year at the 20-acre farm he grew up on, just outside of Newcastle. “It was just this little weatherboard house, but Dad had some of his mates come round, he’s in the engineering game, and they built this huge pool in an hourglass shape with a sunburst mosaic tile in the middle of it. It was just so pimp 70s,” he recounts. “Mum’s got a fair few siblings and so does Dad, so we would have the whole family round to our place at Christmas for a pool party with ham, turkey and all the barbecue stuff . . . Us kids would go nuts in the pool all day and then run inside, still wet, shrouding ourselves with a towel and sit in front of the aircon. That’s my most fun fond memory of Christmas.” This Christmas the pool has some competition in the form of his cousin’s newly built pizza oven. Thankfully their place is only up the road, and while Mingay’s sister has since bought his family home, there is still the prospect of a nostalgic dip. It is the opposite of the festive season Mingay loves singing about most, one that is covered in a winter wonderland, where chestnuts roast on an open fire and Jack Frost nips at your nose. “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas and those types are the perfect songs to put you in that, like, Christmas time in the Gremlins movie mood,” he shares. WASO’s Lotterywest Christmas Spectacular is at RAC Arena, 2pm and 7pm, December 9. Free — bookings at ticketek.com.au.