Cinderella Pantomime Press Launch

Cinderella Pantomime Press Launch

Cinderella Pantomime Press Launch – Whitley Bay Playhouse

Showing from 8th December 2023 – 6th January 2024

I have had another fabulous day in the presence of a handsome prince, a beautiful soon to be princess, a couple of ugly sisters and the most magical fairy of them all as Whitley Bay Playhouse hosted their annual pantomime at the seaside. 

Headlining the cast this year is Louie Spence as the ethereal and glamourous Fairy Godfather and he was positively sparking today sporting a very fetching pair of glittery wings. Louie does not really need any introduction but he is appearing in his 13th or 14th pantomime after previously dancing and performing with pop luminaries such as the Spice Girls and Take That in their many worldwide tours. Louie wants to bring glitz and glamour to the pantomime in Whitley Bay and revels in the fun that this age-old rags to riches story brings to adults and children alike.

Our beautiful Cinderella is played by Jessica Lilley who is an alumnus of the prestigious Urdang Academy. She is really excited to get into rehearsals for Cinderella in November. Her character will be very different from her previous role as the vain and devious Amber in the hit musical Hairspray.

Luke David Martin will once again be donning a frock and fetching wig this time as the wicked ugly stepsister Edina. Luke is no stranger to the pantomime scene in the north east having appeared last year at Stanley Civic Hall and in Boulevard’s much naughtier pantomime. He is joined in villainy with the despicable Patsy played by local legend Daniel Mawston. The uglies are the defacto baddies in this pantomime and are really looking forward to getting some boos. 

Next up is our handsome prince and my goodness he is rather dishy. Prince Charming is played by Jacob Beresford. Jacob graduated from the famous Guildford School of Acting in 2023 and really loved it there because he was able to mix with other students studying all manner of different disciplineswhich rounded his academic experience and journey. Jacob is very active; he also tutors Pilates and loves to keep himself in shape. Jacob’s Prince Charming is sure to have the ladies and quite a few of the men swooning in their seats.

Playing one of the most famous pantomime characters, Buttons, is local legend Steve Walls who is returning to The Playhouse in Whitley Bay for his 14th pantomime and his 27thin total give or take a certain global pandemic. I was lucky enough to interview Steve with another two stalwarts of pantomime the father and son duo of Keith and Ben Simmons as the hilarious comedy double act. What these guys don’t know about pantomime and theatre in general is simply not worth knowing and all three had me captivated with stories and anecdotes from all the pantomimes they have collectively and individually starred in over the years. This will be Keith’s 54th pantomime and Ben’s 24th and they have performed together in no fewer than 19 so they really know their craft. These days when we think of pantomime we think of Dick Whittington, Sleeping Beauty, Jack and the Beanstalk and, of course, Cinderella. Keith, on the other hand has performed in long forgotten pantomimes such as Jack and Jill and Little Bo Peep which included live sheep in the cast. For all the pantomimes in which Steve has provided the comedy foil, he has never yet played the historical pantomime of Dick Whittington – which is quite astonishing. I ended up putting down my notepad while talking to these guys because I was transfixed by their sheer love of pantomime and theatre and I was really just enjoying listening to them talk. Keith told me a wonderful story of actor Brian Burden who was auditioning for a part in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Aspects of Love. When asked what he was going to sing, he said ‘The Impossible Dream’ from Man of La Mancha. There was an audible tut from the darkness, presumably from the Lord himself, to which Brian retorted ‘Well you can’t write them all, love.’

I could have listened to these guys talk all afternoon and I probably took up a great deal more of their time than I should have for which I can only apologise and thank them. It was a thrilling education for this student of Theatre and Performance. 

Many thanks to Blue Genie and Whitley Bay Playhouse forinviting me along, not that it takes any arm twisting to get me to spend an afternoon surrounded by such wonderful pantomime personalities.

It is perfectly clear on meeting this close-knit cast of pantomime aficionados both those starting out on their thigh slapping and magical careers and those with more years under their belts than is reasonable, that the pantomime at Whitley Bay Playhouse is going to be outstanding, full of laughter and hilarity, and one that is not to be missed. You can get your tickets to the Prince’s ball now online and from the box office.  I will be there and I cannot wait.

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