Jack and the Beanstalk: The cast talk as the Countdown begins for Wolverhampton Grand panto - with video
The countdown to Christmas is officially on as the cast for this year’s Grand panto gathered at Dudley Zoo for a photo shoot.
The line-up includes singer Gareth Gates as Jack, veteran dame Ian Adams as his long suffering mother and self-confessed lazy cow Doreen Tipton.
They will all star in the five-week run of Jack and The Beanstalk at Wolverhampton’s Grand Theatre opening on December 9. Missing was ex-Emmerdale star Lisa Riley, who had work commitments, but will travel to the Black Country next month for a costume fit ahead of the start of rehearsals.
Last year’s panto saw more than 60,000 people visit the theatre, smashing all former box office records and grossing £100,000 more than the previous year’s production of Peter Pan.
Gareth Gates plays Jack Trott, the hapless hero of the Beanstalk story. The star is looking forward to returning to the city where he has performed as a singer and will be bringing his daughter Missy to see him.
“I’ve done shows in Wolverhampton twice before and l loved the audiences here,” he said.
“But it was only for a night on each occasion so I’m really looking forward to being here for the season. My dad is from Birmingham. I’ve got three aunties and loads of cousins up here I’ve worked with Lisa[Riley] before but I met Doreen this morning for the first time. I think we’re in for a lot of fun.”
Ian Adams plays Dame Trott, Jack’s beleaguered mother.
The veteran dame crossed the Black Country border to play the dame in Aladdin at The Grand last year after 10 panto seasons at the Lichfield Garrick.
“I always swore I wouldn’t wear a frock for a part but seeing people’s reactions, especially children’s, is wonderful.
“They’re never quite sure if I’m a man or not, which is what you want really.
“The Wolverhampton panto is a bit of a reunion for a lot of us after being together last year, and that’s lovely.”
Doreen Tipton, who plays Jack’s grumpy, not to mention lazy, neighbour. Posing for a photo, leaning casually against Dudley Castle wall, she quips: “This is my Cotton Traders look.”
The comedienne, who has been playing Doreen for five years, won Best Newcomer in the Great British Pantomime Awards after her performance last year as the Empress of China in Aladdin at the Grand.
She said: “That was very nice. Biggins was shocked when I won.”
And there will be no big frock this year for Doreen, who will wear her familiar hoodie and jeans for the part.
For more information, click here