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£1m Cinderella is a record breaker for Wolverhampton's Grand Theatre

Wolverhampton | News | Published:

The Grand Theatre has smashed its pantomime records by taking £1 million in ticket sales before opening weekend.

It is the first time the theatre, which is celebrating its 120th anniversary, has reached the million-pound mark before launch night.

But this year's performances of Cinderella, starring Julian Clary, are so highly anticipated, more than 50,000 people have already snapped up tickets.

Peter Cutchie, Grand chief executive, said he was delighted to reach the milestone. He said it would also provide a much-needed boost to Wolverhampton city centre and its economy.

"Last year's pantomime Sleeping Beauty, which was a very popular and successful production, reached this mark around December 21 so we're three weeks ahead of schedule," he said.

"It's fantastic that so many people will be flocking to Wolverhampton over this festive period which will no doubt contribute to a great boost in the local economy."

The pantomime opens on Saturday, with comedian Clary treading the boards as Dandini and Hollyoaks star Joe Tracini taking the role of Buttons.

Interview: Joe Tracini, Wolves Grand Panto

Interview: Julian Clary, Wolves Grand Panto

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Both visited the Express & Star office this week, with Julian saying despite his famous risqué sense of humour and double entendres it is a show for all the family.

"The joy of innuendo is that it's for adults and kids don't register it.

"I don't want adults to feel forced to come and endure the show, so I try to make the performance enjoyable for everyone," he said.

"There's fun for the adults and a love story and moral for children.

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"They like the costumes too. We've even had hen parties turn up in the past, because they're out for a good time."

Fellow cast member Joe said he was particularly delighted the theatre had broken records as his father Joe Pasquale starred in Sleeping Beauty last year.

"We've beat dad so that's fine with me," he said. "It's just brilliant. You can't beat theatres like the Grand.

"Even with 1,200 people inside, it's still intimate, and that's perfect for panto because the audience is right on you. Pantos can be of a really poor quality when they're not traditional, but the Grand always puts on a good show.

"I'm having so much fun that this week we finished rehearsals two hours early and I was gutted.

"Big credit to dad's show and the Grand for how great it was last year, because people are coming back.

"Julian is the nicest man and I sit and laugh at his jokes every day.

"I've been a fan for years and though he's quite quiet off stage, he's just lovely."

Both actors also said audiences can expect plenty of improvisation to keep things fresh.

Joe said: "We have a script and a story that we stick to, but me and Julian make jokes up as we go. You have to do that if you're working the same show over and over again. If you're not having fun, kids can see and get bored and stop listening."

Julian said he was also looking forward to performing for more 'mature' audiences in Wolverhampton.

"Audiences of old age pensioners are such fun," he said.

"They're highly underestimated. They get all my jokes.

"I've been in many pantos but I honestly believe that this particular cast is great.

"They are all lovely and doing their job properly."

Both actors have also been enjoying their stay in the city so far, with Julian turning to locals on Twitter to navigate the best health food shops in the city and Joe enjoying the friendly company he's found in the region.

Joe said: "I've worked up north more than I've been in London and I find that people north of Northampton have more time for you.

"The people here don't want anything off you, they just want a chat, and that's great.

"It's lovely that people like what we do. You can get people saying horrible things to you because you're on telly, but not here."

And Julian has already encountered the Black Country humour.

He said: "I tweeted to ask if there was a good health food shop in the city, and someone from Wolverhampton tweeted me back to say 'no, but there is a Greggs'."

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