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There Are Giants In The Sky!

November 28, 2016


Monday 28th November 2016West London.


Like the arrival of the first Christmas trees and Black Friday- it’s that time of year again- First day of term in Pantoland!

All the preparation that has gone on throughout the Spring and Summer comes to fruition in rehearsal rooms across land. We are no exception. This year Team Royal & Derngate “Jack and The Beanstalk” gathered under one roof to start rehearsing this morning.

This I think will be my forty-second pantomime! How scary is that?

I’m not sure where the time went, but twenty-eight glorious years went working with Peter Robbins in “Cinderella” and then as Dame I’m starting to clock up a few seasons! This is my third “Jack & The Beanstalk”, and my very first time in Northampton!

Meet The Company!


Our Creative team is headed by Stewart Nichols our director, along with Gary Lloyd who will be choreographing the show. The set up in the rehearsal room is as usual- two rooms, one with Stewart in and one with Gary and our Musical Director Phil Dennis moving between the two. That’s how short rehearsals like ours- we open a week Friday, are possible. Multi tasking with a vengeance!


The technical Stage Management team has Eamonn Byrne as CSM (Company Stage Manager for the uninitiated!) with Beth Treen as DSM (Deputy Stage Manager) and our two ASM’s Jo Serbyn and Sarah Trim-West. The Wardrobe- that is to say, the costumes in the show, will be looked after by Louise Curwen assisted by Natasha Jenkins.


The day began with arriving at the rehearsal rooms and the joy of discovering there are not one but two “Jack & The Beanstalk’s” here this week, with the Qdos Nottingham Theatre Royal company here as well. It will be a week of “To Me, To You” I’m guessing, and great fun! No sooner had I walked in to the reception when I ran into Paul Robinson- we go back to Cinderella Days at the Manchester Palace, old mate Paul Gabriel- in Nottingham’s “Jack” and Martin Hutchinson. Lovely to bump into Nottingham’s MD too- the lovely Alan Rogers.


Meeting up with Paul Gabriel!

Now- onto OUR Panto cast!


For every beanstalk there has to be a hero to climb it. Our Jack is Simon Webbe. Last year he was in the Nottingham Panto, and joins us here for a life on the farm and the chance to marry Princess Apricot- Ashleigh Butler. Ashleigh’s furry friend wasn’t here today, since he already knows all his lines and a lot of his moves- but will join at the end of the week when Stewart starts “Putting It Together”.


I had the chance to see Ashleigh and Pudsey (along with my mates Lorinda King & Lee Redwood” in “Mission Impudsible” this summer.). Great fun it was!


I will be giving my Dame Trott this year, with Son Simon as Jack and my other son, Ricky K as Simon. I’m already confused that Simon is called Jack and Ricky is Simon, but I’ll get over it! We are the Trotts.. (many similar gags to follow I’m sure) who are threatened by the Evil Fleshcreep- John McLarnon, and he in turn is threatened by the feisty Spirit Of The Beans, Jalisa Andrews. Jalisa is a fellow South Wale-ean, she hails from Port Talbot. Tidy!

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No Panto is complete with an ensemble of talented dancers. Delighted to see Jordan Palmer who was with me last year in Sunny Llandudno, joined by Sophie Usher, Sophie Kiernan and our two lads Kevin Heatherson and Joe Stribley.

Usually in Panto rehearsals you very rarely see the ensemble and the choreographer during the early part of the week- they are setting routines in another room, so it was very lovely for us all to have a get-together on arrival, and get a chance to meet and mingle before going our separate ways for the next three days or so.

After all there years it is still very much a first day at school experience. Script clutched by your side and pencil at the ready. This panto is special to me as a dog lover  though, as we’ll get to experience the gorgeous Pudsey and his mate Sullivan when we get to the Derngate. I’ve seen Sullivan briefly in the Spring,  when I bumped into Ashleigh at Crufts this year. I wasn’t competing- just visiting!


The Press Launch at The Derngate

After our meet and Greet the Ensemble and Gary went into the next room to start setting numbers, while we remained with Phil and set keys for musical numbers. A quick break for coffee, and some parish notes from Stewart and from Eamonn, and a very jolly visit from James Dacre,  artistic Director at the Derngate Theatre.


After this Stewart began blocking (that is to say positioning us into scenes for the uninitiated) the show. We carried on until lunch, and then continued into Act Two, finishing the blocking by the end of the day. Not bad huh?

Tomorrow we start running individual scenes, starting at 10am with Ricky & I doing our “DVD” routine- like the “Sweeties” routine but Cinematically enhanced- you need to book tickets to see it!  We’ll be running through that routine while Ashleigh and Simon have wardrobe calls in a vast church hall across the road.

All in all, a great day in Pantoland!



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