I was lucky enough to be invited along to the Press Launch for this year’s DeMontfort Hall Pantomime, Cinderella.
Once again Imagine Theatre are heading up the Christmas entertainment for families of all ages at Leicester’s premier concert venue.
Judging by the mayhem during the photo shoot this year’s cast are going to have a hoot.
My first sit down chat was with just-signed Madison Swann fresh from appearing in Tony Blair The Musical and a 2.5 year run in The Book of Mormon in London’s West End. Madison is playing the Fairy Godmother in her very first pantomime. She has done stints in Disneyland Paris as a performer so working with a raucous audience of children doesn’t scare her. Also her experience working as a nanny will stand her in good stead. She is just grateful that she can give them back to their parents after the show!
Next on my list was New Zealand comic Jarred Christmas returning for a second year as Buttons. Well known to UK audiences for his stand-up tours and appearances on TV panel shows, Christmas is a big, cuddly bundle of laughs and was hilariously disruptive in this afternoon’s photo shoot. After last year’s subdued panto due to Covid Jarred is looking forward to abandoning the social distancing that was necessary. While the main characters of Cinderella and The Fairy Godmother are essential for pushing the story along Jarred revels in the freedom that the comedy characters have to just have a laugh. We have to watch out for his gusset issues. Last year he split his trousers on opening night and, so far, that wardrobe malfunction occurred on the photoshoot. But that may not be the end of it for this year!
This year’s star turns, for many, will be the dance duo brothers AJ and Curtis Pritchard. Following on from the success of their appearance in Imagine Theatre’s Cinderella last year in Wolverhampton the boys are again playing Prince Charming and Dandini to Evie Pickerill’s Cinders. A perfect fit for this couple of jokers who spend so much time ribbing each other. AJ as the Prince is small but perfectly formed while Curtis is much more like a big old Labrador and quite the practical joker. Their onstage high jinks promise to be hilarious.
And as if that is not enough from the boys fans will have the opportunity to get tickets for An Evening with … on Friday 30th December or for Meet’n’Greets on Tuesday 20th, Friday 23rd and Tuesday 27th December. These extra tickets are only available to book when buying regular show tickets. Check the website for details.
Saving the best til last I sat down for a chat with the panto legend that is Martin Ballard. Giving us his Dame Penny in his 31st year in panto, Martin is hoping that last year’s leg injury will not reoccur and he can do every performance again. Up until recently Martin was a stalwart of BBC Radio Leicester but, having been offered redundancy, he has been able to take on a lot more interesting freelance work. But Radio Leicester hasn’t seen the last of him. He keeps popping up with various shows. We soon got onto chatting about how much he missed last year’s Sleeping Beauty and how important he thinks pantomime is for introducing youngsters to the magic of theatre. He is also passionate about it being a great training ground for young wannabe actors to gain theatrical experience.
The booking office is open for tickets to see Cinderella which runs from 10th December to 2nd January. Don’t forget tickets for the extra events with AJ and Curtis are only available to main show ticketholders and must be booked in advance.