Since it's launch earlier this year in June the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre's 2012/13 pantomime Jack and the Beanstalk has announced three new stars bringing the total to seven (including Orville and Cuddles). Midlands X Factor singing sensation Niki Evans joins as the Fairy Godmother Spirit Of The Beans. Coronation Street star Ken Morley reunites with Sherrie Hewson and Nigel Ellacott is dame.
Held at Wolverhampton Race Course it seemed only fitting for the evening to begin with a Pantomime Horse race with jockeys representing various sponsors and amateur societies. Daisy The Cow was on hand to oversee the race whilst Dame Trott provided humorous commentary. Pascale Rollings representing MusCom (Wolverhampton Musical Comedy Society) came in second with Alastair Norton of South Staffs Operatic Society in first place.
After dinner, Executive Producer Jonathan Kiley of Qdos unveiled more about this years giant pantomime spectacular. "We're very excited to be reuniting screen partners Sherrie Hewson and Ken Morley who will be doing a song together. They did say yes and I hope it will still be a yes when we start rehearsals! Orville's song is bound to provoke a few tears!" Orville took a visit to Dudley Zoo, the local partner of the pantomime. He was one of the first to try out the newly refurbished chairlift that has been out of use for many years.
Orville wasn't the only animal to visit the zoo that day. Cuddles the monkey visited the Orangutans who got very angry and nearly broke the glass trying to get at him. After working with Keith Harris and Orville two years ago in pantomime at the Birmingham Hippodrome Jonathan Kiley knows that they will be well received in Wolverhampton. And then of course there is "local legend" Niki Evans who after just finishing a run as Paulette in Legally Blonde is currently touring the country as Mrs Johnston again in Blood Brothers. "She has an amazing voice and will be a great Fairy Godmother. She is going to be doing some amazing numbers, some songs from Sister Act this year. We haven't used her as much as we should have in previous years and so this year we're making sure that she really will shine." Niki Evans is at home in Wolverhampton and returns for her third pantomime at the theatre.
Hosting the event was this year's "Dame of Dames" Nigel Ellacott as Dame Trott who had spent most of the day at the zoo with Talulah the Tapir. Nigel was one part of the famous pantomime double act with Peter Robbins who is sadly no longer with us. "They were the most famous Ugly Sister double act we had in the UK and we are honoured to have Nigel with us as our solo dame after 28 years of playing as an ugly sister." said Jonathan Kiley. Nigel promises his legendary strip tease which involves multiple layers of clothing, which is worth the ticket price alone.
The evening ended with most difficult pantomime quiz created by theatre marketing manager Iain Watkins. Comprising of questions from Nigel Ellacott's pantomime website http://www.its-behind-you.com.
With only 11 weeks to go until opening night this year's pantomime promises to be a real treat for all the family. It runs from Saturday 8th December with two shows a day up until Sunday 20th January.
You can buy tickets for the pantomime here: http://www.grandtheatre.info/WhatsOn_focus.asp?ShowId=604&sC=page46