Full Casting Announced for De Montfort Hall’s pantomime

The De Montfort Hall are delighted to announce their full casting for this year's spectacular family pantomime, Beauty and the Beast.

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Sarah Accomando and Karl Loxley will play the title roles of Beauty and the Beast, alongside Daniel Tawse in his first De Montfort Hall pantomime playing the role of villain Eugene.

They are joining the previously announced Richard McCourt from Dick and Dom, X-Factor finalist and Leicester favourite Sam Bailey, Heartbeat’s David Lonsdale and BBC Radio Leicester’s Martin Ballard who will be donning a frock for the seventh time to play Dame Kimmy Shoo!

Sarah Accomando who is playing Beauty is delighted to be returning to a role that has a special place in her heart having played Disney’s Belle for The Walt Disney Company in Tokyo, Japan.

Karl Loxley, former contestant of The Voice, will be largely unrecognisable hidden behind a mask as the Beast. Karl has been busy performing concerts to sell-out crowds across the UK and flying around the world to perform on luxury cruise liners since appearing on the show.

Both Sarah and Karl are making return visits to De Montfort Hall having previously appeared together in the 2015 pantomime, Snow White, playing the title role and the prince.

Sarah said: “I am thrilled to be back at De Montfort Hall this Christmas. I was last here as Snow White a couple of years back and I had such a blast, so I just know this Christmas is going to be a lot of fun. I met so many wonderful people whilst working in Leicester so I just can’t wait to be back.”

Antony Flint, De Montfort Hall general manager, added “Our aim is to build on the success of previous years and believe that this is our strongest cast to date offering something for the whole family. We want to give the Leicester audiences a proper Leicester show with lots of in jokes, local references and talent - I’m sure there will be the odd reference to bogies this year if Richard has anything to do with it!”

Beauty and the Beast runs from Saturday 16 December 2017 until Sunday 7 January 2018.

The Grand Pavilion’s Panto Cast Set for a Ball This Christmas

The Grand Pavilion in Porthcawl are delighted to announce their full cast for the magical family pantomime Cinderella.

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As previously announced Grand Pavilion favourites Jolyon Dixon and Nathan Guy are returning for another year of panto mayhem and joining them are some familiar faces from last year’s Jack and the Beanstalk. Jeremy Cave who played the villainous Fleshcreep is getting touch with his dark side again, albeit this time in a dress as an Ugly Sister.

“I was 18 when I did my first panto and I played an Ugly Sister on a world trip onboard the cruise ship the Oriana -  that was 12 years ago so can't wait to put the lippy back on!  I am looking forward to getting back with all the gang as it was an amazing cast and crew on Jack and the Beanstalk so I am delighted a lot of the same people are back again. Me and Jolyon had such a laugh on stage and off and just can't wait to partner up with him this year for more hilarity!”

“I really enjoyed spending last Christmas in Porthcawl. It is hard to pin point my favourite thing but you can't beat that view every morning! We were lucky with the weather and nearly every day there was a beautiful sunrise and sunset.” 

Rasheeda Ali and Jessie Lilley are also returning for their second year. Rasheeda is taking on the title role of Cinderella, having played Princess Tamara last year.

“I am delighted to be back home for Christmas again this year. It means that not only do I get to spend Christmas with my family, they get to see me in panto. My mum tells everyone she knows to come and see it and I lost count of the amount of times she saw Jack and the Beanstalk!”

“Last year was my first ever panto and I enjoyed it so much I was really excited to be invited back again this year. Cinderella is one of the most well-known of the fairy tale princesses so it is a bit nerve racking.”

Jessie played Jack last year and is delighted to be returning to Wales for the festive season as Prince Charming. “Part of the reason I am so excited to be back is to work with such a fabulous cast and crew again. Panto in Porthcawl always feels like a real team effort and everyone is very supportive of each other.”

The Grand Pavilion are also welcoming two new cast members this year with Courtney King playing the dual roles of Wicked Stepmother and Fairy Godmother and Elin Pavli-Hinde as Dandini.

Courtney says “This will be my first visit to the Grand Pavilion. The nearest I have been to Porthcawl before is Cardiff with Round the Horne. It won’t be my first Cinderella though as I have played Fairy Godmother twice before and Wicked Stepmother twice, but never both at the same time. I am looking forward to the contrast between the two, as they are so strikingly different.”

It is also Elin’s first visit to the Grand Pavilion in Porthcawl but she has previously appeared in three pantomimes for Aberystwyth Arts Centre.

“I adore panto as it is a great mixture of magic and comedy and a brilliant introduction to theatre for kids. My favourite panto memory is probably when I saw Cinderella’s rags turn into a ballgown for the first time as a child… I was completely mesmerized… I remember thinking this must be magic!" 

Cinderella runs from Friday 15 December 2017 until Sunday 7 January 2018. After successive record breaking seasons we advise booking tickets early to ensure you get seats at your preferred performance.

Grimsby Auditorium’s Cinderella Cast Ready for a Ball This Christmas

The Grimsby Auditorium are delighted to announce their full cast for this year’s spectacular family pantomime Cinderella.

 The launch of the Grimsby Auditorium Panto of Cinderella, at Grimsby Town Hall.
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Joining Britain’s Got Talent finalist Jon Clegg as Buttons will be Grimsby’s own Phil Hoyles who returns to play an Ugly Sister after playing Widow Twankey in last year’s production of Aladdin. Joining him as the other half of the gruesome twosome is Kevin McGreevy in his first role as dame.

Phil has had a busy year working on his own children’s show as well as a Tommy Cooper tribute show which he has been touring since 2002. In addition he presents his own radio show and has been doing voice-over work for a well-known supermarket.

Phil says "I am delighted to be back this year. I had such a great time playing Widow Twankey last year, the audiences were brilliant and loved the show, so I'm looking forward to being back. With Grimsby being my home town, it's always good to return, especially at Christmas to spend time with family as well as working the Auditorium."

“I enjoy playing an Ugly Sister. I played it for the first time way back in 2005 when I did a touring production of Cinderella. I then spent three years playing the part of Ugly Sister and we did Haverhill, Leatherhead and the Isle of Wight. Working alongside another dame as Ugly Sister you develop a partnership and a bond during the run of the show. You can bounce off each other too which is a really fun thing to do. Also if one forgets the lines hopefully the other one can jump in!” 

For Kevin McGreevy who has spent many years playing the comic in panto, most recently at the Palace Theatre in Newark and the Royal Spa Centre in Leamington Spa, the chance to tackle a different kind of panto role is very exciting.

“I can't wait to be a Ugly Sister this year, I have been in Cinderella three times and this is the first time I'm doing it in a frock! I think the biggest challenge for me will be all the costume changes as the comic never has more than three costumes but a dame always has a lot more and there is not always much time!”

“I am looking forward to panto season as it will be a wonderful end to a busy year for me. I have been working on a fabulous interactive show called Dinosaurs in the Wild for the last few months as well a charity music festival with Peter Andre, Lulu, Gabrielle, Lemar, Feeder, Wonderstuff and many more as well as a large dance festival headline by Diversity.”

Also joining the cast are Trixie Waggott as Cinderella, Ann Micklethwaite in the dual roles of the Fairy Godmother and Wicked Stepmother, Sally Frith as the dashing Prince Charming and Laura Robson as Dandini.

Trixie is excited to be playing what she calls the “ultimate panto princess”.

“I have always loved the magic of panto and as a performer it's great to have just as much of that on the stage as well as you would as an audience member. Panto is often the first introduction into theatre for a child and I love that after seeing Cinderella at Christmas they may feel inspired to see other productions in the future. 

“As a little girl I was always obsessed with fairytales, and seeing them come to life on the stage through pantomime was amazing. My first ever panto was Snow White and I loved every second of it, seeing my family singing and dancing along made it such a great experience. Now I can't ever imagine Christmas without seeing a panto.” 

Book your tickets now to see this magical panto cast.  Cinderella runs from Friday 15th - Thursday 28th December 2017.

A 'Beauty' of a Cast for The Palace Theatre Newark Panto

The Palace Theatre’s festive plans are well under way and they are delighted to announce their full cast for this year’s spectacular family panto Beauty and the Beast.

Joining Emmerdale’s Jonathan Wrather is Tim Freeman, who is back by popular demand having played Dame Trot in last year’s production of Jack and the Beanstalk. He is been joined by a host of new faces including Ryan Willis as Dame Dorothy’s daft son Willy Do it, Isabella Rubin as Beauty, David Gilbrook as Beauty’s Father, Jamie Sheerman as Pimple, Adam Pettit as the Beast and Anna Mitcham as the Enchantress.

Tim is delighted be returning to The Palace Theatre to play Dame Dorothy Do It.

“The Palace is such a lovely theatre with a great crew! Best of all though are the Newark audiences who are always up for a laugh! I have some great memories from last year. There was one show when I was chasing Kev (Simple Simon) around with a massive custard pie and I slipped over but the floor was so slippery I just couldn't stand up, when Kev tried to help me he fell over too and we ended sliding all over the place- chaos! And so embarrassing! The audience loved it though and hopefully they thought it was just part of the script!”

“Playing Dame is great as you get to have cheeky laughs with the audience and the rest of the cast! You get to mess around with custard pies as well and get paid for it – what could be better!”

This will be Ryan’s first visit to the Palace Theatre and his fourth professional pantomime having previously appeared in Cinderella and Jack and the Beanstalk in Guildford and Snow White in Nottingham.

Ryan understands the importance of panto on young theatregoers. “The first pantomime I saw as a child was The Wizard of Oz. It was the first theatre show I ever saw and was where my passion for theatre began. Pantomime is often a child’s first introduction to theatre and it is important we give them a fabulous show so they go away wanting to see more live theatre.”

For Jamie Sheerman this will be his second time playing Pimple having appeared in Beauty and the Beast at The Spa Centre in Leamington last year.

“Pimple is the sidekick to Eugene, Jonathan Wrather’s character, in the same way that Lefou is to Gaston in the Disney version. I get some great comedy moments in the show and it is fun being part of a duo as you can play off each other a fair bit as well.” 

The show will once again be directed by Mairi Cowieson with choreography by Graeme Pickering. Mairi says “I really enjoy working on the panto in Newark as the town has a real community spirit and the all the venue staff work really hard on the panto and help to make it a great success.”

“It is really exciting to do Beauty and the Beast as the panto this year after the huge popularity of the recent film. The panto version is, of course, very different to the Disney version and has a lot more comedy in it, but the basic story is the same and we know the audiences are going to love it.”

Beauty and the Beast runs from Friday 8 December 2017 until Wednesday 3 January 2018.

Southport Cinderella Cast Ready for a Ball This Christmas

Southport Theatre and Convention Centre are delighted to announce their full cast for this year’s spectacular family pantomime Cinderella.

Joining former Brookside star Sam Kane as Buttons and Jason Marc-Williams and Alistair Barron as the Ugly Sisters are Toni Howard as Cinderella, Justine E Bailey as the Fairy Godmother / Wicked Stepmother, Joe Ashman as Prince Charming and Jack Kane as Dandini.

For Jack having Sam Kane and Linda Lusardi as parents means that panto is in his blood.  “I’ve been very lucky as both my mum and my dad have done panto since I was born so I have seen almost every panto story going.”

“I have worked with my dad on a few pantos in the past, back when I was one of the juveniles, in the chorus and also playing one of the dwarfs in Snow White at Wolverhampton Grand. The pressure will be bigger now as I am playing a principal character, but I'm really looking forward to it.  He's a fantastic director, and hopefully, being my dad, he'll be able to bring the best out in me. I often find I agree with his direction as we have very similar ideas about characters and how to play them.” 

Justine has appeared in 11 pantomimes, the last six being in Oldham, mostly as Principal Boy and she is looking forward to playing two very different roles this festive season.

“I can’t wait to play two roles - you’re so lucky if you get to play both good and bad in a panto - as it’s a challenge to try and win the audience over as fairy but have them hate you in another costume! I can’t wait to get my hands on Cinderella’s dress!”

I really love panto. I love the fun and energy and I love the music, I love that it is still a form of entertainment that packs out a theatre. I love the different levels within a panto - that there is content for children and adults alike. Most of all I love the fact that no two shows are ever the same as audiences make such an important addition to each performance.”

“I don’t live that far from Southport so have visited many times and I love it, especially as the people are so welcoming.”

Joe Ashman has been performing since he was a child playing Jeremy in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Kurt in The Sound of Music, both at The London Palladium. More recently he has appeared in Our House – The Madness Musical at the Union Theatre and Rent at the Birmingham Rep, played the title role of Jack in Jack and the Beanstalk and appeared in Casualty. A talented singer-songwriter and guitarist Joe has also performed in cabaret all over the world.

“Funnily enough the first panto I ever saw was starring Linda Lusardi and Sam Kane... and now they're my in-laws! I even met my girlfriend doing panto two years ago. Funny old world eh!? I'm really looking forward to working with Sam, Jack and Toni this year- they're ace people and it'll be so much fun to bring our real friendships into this show.”

“My favorite thing about panto is how two shows are never the same. You're always doing something to make this show even more fun than the last. Generally other actors find it very easy to make me laugh on stage!”

This will be Toni Howard’s professional pantomime debut and she cannot wait to play such an iconic fairy tale role.

“As a child I would watch the village pantomime yearly and then when I got to the age of nine I was able to take part for a couple years running. The only professional pantomimes I've seen are Snow White, Jack and the Beanstalk and Aladdin. It’s definitely encouraged me to see more as I thought they were all fantastic! I now can't help but get excited for Southport's Cinderella!” 

“Cinderella was one of my favourite fairytales growing up so to be able to play her as my first panto lead is amazing. I am excited to be part of a fantastic cast and to make Christmas special for so many children!” 

Don’t miss out on Southport Theatre’s stunning production of Cinderella. The show runs from Friday 15 December 2017 until Saturday 6 January 2018.

The Halifax Panto's Magical Cast

The Victoria Theatre are delighted to announce their full cast for their spectacular family pantomime Aladdin.

In addition to the previously announced Neil Hurst and Adam Stafford some more familiar faces will be returning to the venue this year. Andrew Piper who played Captain Hook will be back to continue his wicked ways as the evil magician Abanazar, Lucy Keirl, who played Tiger Lily in last year’s production of Peter Pan will be tackling two roles – So Shi, handmaiden to the Princess, and the Spirit of the Ring, alongside Katie Faye who played Wendy last year, as the Princess. After an absence of two years Felicity Skiera returns to the Victoria Theatre to play the title role of the mischievous and daring Aladdin. Felicity previously played Jack in the 2015 production of Jack and the Beanstalk.

Felicity says “I have played Jack for three years now and although it has been a fabulous three years climbing the beanstalk I am definitely ready for a change. Aladdin is such a fantastic story that everyone knows and loves, so to be playing the title role is so exciting! I'm really looking forward to getting on that magic carpet as who knows where it will take me. I'm also thrilled to be working with my on-stage brother again, the wonderful Neil Hurst. He's super talented and never fails to make me laugh - usually at the times I'm not supposed to be!”

“I have so many fantastic memories of my time at the Victoria Theatre, but one that really stands out is during a scene where we all had to freeze while Fleshcreep came onstage and stole the magical golden harp. Every night without fail Fleshcreep would do something horrid to Simple Simon (played by Neil), such as sticking his finger up his nose, or putting a sour sweet in his mouth, and Neil could do nothing about it as he had to remain frozen! Every night we'd all be crying with laughter whilst trying to remain still, it was brilliant and the audience loved it too!” 

One new face is Aaron Gibson who is taking on the role of the larger than life Genie of the Lamp. Aaron has previously played the role in both Southport and Barnstaple and is delighted to be spending his first festive season in Halifax.

“The Genie is great fun to play and although I have played the role twice before I am just as excited as ever. It will be a new script for me this year as this version of Aladdin has been written by Eric Potts and I am intrigued to see how he has written the character of the Genie. I am sure he will be just as flamboyant as ever and I will still get strange looks off people when I go out in-between shows covered in glitter!”

The show will once again be Directed by Robert Marsden. “I am delighted to have so many familiar faces in the cast for Aladdin. We broke box office records with the pantomime last year so we need to make sure that we put on a spectacular show again this year and I am confident we will have no trouble doing that with such a wonderful cast.”

A 'Purrfect' Cast for the Palace Theatre Kilmarnock Panto

The Palace Theatre are delighted to announce their full cast for their spectacular family pantomime Dick Whittington.

This year’s panto sees some favourite faces returning to the stage with Fraser Boyle as Dame, Gary Morrison as Idle Jack and River City’s Sally Howitt as Fairy Bowbells. The Palace Theatre are also delighted to welcome back James McAnerney who will be playing Alderman Fitzwarren having been the baddie for the last two years as Dean Castle in Beauty and the Beast and the Demon King in Mother Goose.

James is delighted to be back at his ‘second home’ for the festive season. “I enjoy being at the Palace for panto because the audience are so close to the stage you can see all their reactions really clearly. It always feels like a family working with Imagine at The Palace as the team they put together always get on so well.”

“This year will be a big change for me not playing the baddie as I'm so used to getting booed from the Killie crowd. It will be nice to be able to be part of the story where happiness is happening rather than me trying to stop it all the time. It's also great not being the baddie this year as I'm trying to cut out the booooze in my life – ha ha – I’ll have to try get that one in the script!”

David Haydn, who played Aladdin’s nemesis Abanazar in 2014 is back to play the dastardly King Rat. Amy Scott last appeared in the Palace panto back in 2008 in Mother Goose and is delighted to reprise the role of Alice Fitzwarren that she played at Eden Court in Inverness last year alongside Charlotte Forbes who is reprising her role of Dick Whittington from the same production. Also joining the team as the feisty feline Tommy the Cat is Anna MacDonald.  

As well as performing Charlotte Forbes has had a busy year working on her personal training business as well as running dance and drama workshops. Following on from panto she will be taking to the high seas once more as a performer on Royal Caribbean.

“This will be my first time appearing at the Palace Theatre Kilmarnock and I am very excited to be taking to this iconic stage and working with some brilliant Scottish actors. Dick Whittington is such a great pantomime and he is such a fun character to play. Last year I loved being able to run around the stage fighting King Rat with my trusty side kick Tommy. Playing a principal boy is a huge challenge and it requires a lot of energy to portray their larger than life personalities but it is so rewarding when the audience gets behind you willing you to save the day.”

Don’t miss out on the hilarious swashbuckling panto. Dick Whittington runs from Saturday 25 November to Saturday 31 Dec 2017.

A 'Beauty' of a Pantomime Cast for the Spa Centre

The Royal Spa Centre are delighted to announce that they are fully cast for this year’s production of Sleeping Beauty.

Joining Spa Centre favourites JP McCue and Sean Dodds are Sally Peerless as the good fairy Gabriella, Denise Pitter as the wicked fairy Carabosse, Chloe Fay as Princess Rosa, Glyn Dilley as the King, James Leeman as Prince Victor and Teddy Moynihan as Carabosse’s side kick, Fran.

Sally Peerless is currently appearing in the UK tour of Sister Act the Musical, having spent much of the last few years in Saturday Night Fever both in the UK and Germany.

Denise also has a strong musical theatre background having appeared in Guys and Dolls in the West End alongside Patrick Swayze as well as the UK tours of Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story and Dancing in the Streets amongst many others.

James has appeared in a number of pantomimes for producer’s Imagine Theatre and is delighted to be spending his first festive season in Leamington. “People I know who have previously having worked at the Spa Centre speak very highly of the team on the panto so that's also quite exciting. Leamington Spa is a beautiful place so I'm looking forward to spending my Christmas there.” 

James has played the Prince in Snow White for the last two years in both Grimsby and Southport and says “I've had great fun playing the Prince in Snow White so I'm excited to spend this season saving another ‘sleeping Princess’ but this time it being Sleeping Beauty.”

The title role of the ‘sleeping beauty’, Princess Rosa, is being played by Chloe Fay in her third professional pantomime. “When I was younger I was in the Junior Ensemble for four pantomimes and I still love appearing in them now. My favourite thing about it is that every performance is different. Nothing is taken too seriously and the audience participation being different every time makes it really fun!”

“I am looking forward to playing a princess as it is every girl’s dream to be a princess and getting to wear such beautiful gowns every day, and always having perfect and pristine hair... Oh and obviously being able to sing all the time without anyone looking at you in a weird way!”

Glyn Dilley is a hugely experienced performer and has appeared in 22 pantomimes clocking up an impressive 1400 performances since making his professional panto debut in The Palace Theatre in Morecambe, his home town. His performances this year have a very royal feel to them - as well as playing the King in Sleeping Beauty he is touring the UK as King Arthur for Story Pocket Theatre.

“I love panto as it gives so much pleasure to so many people every year. It is also great fun to do. One of my favourite panto memories is being on stage at the Liverpool Empire when a small child told the Queen to go away using a very rude word! It brought the house down and everything to a standstill!”

Teddy Moynihan was part of the RSC’s Shakespeare Live performance to mark 400 years since the Bard’s death when he performed as Chino / Ensemble in the West Side Story routine. He has also played Dandini in Cinderella and is looking forward to getting in touch with his dark side this season.

“I think it will be great fun to play a baddie and I look forward to seeing how loud we can get the kids booing!”

Janice Dunn who has directed the pantomime for the last few years says “I am delighted to have such a fabulous cast. Directing at the Spa Centre is always great fun and I promise we are going to put on another spectacular show this year.”

Sleeping Beauty opens on Saturday 2 December 2017. The show runs until Sunday 31 December 2017 and for more information or to book tickets please call 01926 334 418 or visit www.royalspacentreandtownhall.co.uk

Double Trouble for Cinderella in Southport This Christmas!

Southport Theatre and Convention Centre are delighted to announce that two familiar faces are returning for panto this year as the deliciously wicked Ugly Sisters.

Jason Marc-Williams who played Dame Dolly Mixture last year returns to don a dress once again, with Alistair Barron who played Jingles the Jester last year, moving over to the dark side as the other half of the dastardly duo who do everything they can to make poor Cinderella’s life a misery.

2017 is a busy year for Jason as he is currently in the UK tour of Trespass and later this year he will be starring in the tour of the Ray Cooney farce It Runs in the Family before heading in to pantoland.

Jason says “Alistair and I have been friends for 5 years now, in fact we are more like brothers, so it is hilarious that we are playing Ugly Sisters this year.  This is fourth consecutive panto season together, until now we have been dame and comic, but we have always talked about how much fun it would be to play Ugly Sisters together.  I have already been giving him some make-up tips to help him out!”

Alistair adds “Me and Jason are the very best of friends, I don't find him annoying in the slightest....! It is so nice to keep getting asked back to places to do panto with one another, but sometimes I wonder when I'm going to be able to get away from him!” 

“I am so excited to play the baddie. I have been the comic for the last three years which has been fun, but I am so enthusiastic about a new challenge! Also it will be the first time that I'll be playing a dame character so a very different panto season for me.” 

Both Jason and Alistair are in agreement that Southport is a great place to spend the festive season.

Jason says “There are many wonderful things about working in Southport, including all the brilliant staff at the theatre. I live in Swansea near the sea so being in a seaside town for Christmas stops me feeling too homesick.”

Alistair is in agreement with this, adding “I am really looking forward to going back to Southport this year to perform in panto as there is a lovely community spirit in the town and at the theatre, and the audiences were such fun. I do like to be beside the seaside, oh I do like to be beside the sea.” 

Don’t miss out on Southport Theatre’s stunning production of Cinderella. The show runs from Friday 15 December 2017 until Saturday 6 January 2018.