Wednesday 4th September
The children may have just gone back to school but thoughts are turning to the festive season already - and that means Panto!
(l-r) Danny Mills, Jon Moses, Tina Barrett and Rik Gaynor
This year, Chesterfield's Pomegranate Theatre will play host to Paul Holman's production of Beauty and The Beast - and the star studded cast were in town yesterday to meet the press and public and get ready for what's sure to be a hit show (oh yes it is!).
Billed as the 'tale as old as time' in the famous Disney song, Beauty and The Beast is of course a story of love against the odds but Director Maurice Thorogood (who will also take on the role of Professor Crackpot) says we can expect a few surprises, and no, he wouldn't be drawn on what they were!
It's his first visit to Chesterfield and he was full of praise for the Pomegranate, telling local media, "For Pantomime. this theatre is just perfect, we can't wait! I've been up to look at all the seats and everybody is going to be involved in it!
"It's a fabulous story of boy meets girl - but within the marvellous story telling, we have comedy and an action packed fun filled show - with lots of magic and plenty of songs. We have to entertain the full family - mum, dad, children and grandparents - we've got something for all of them."
Although the cast had never met before, it's clear after five minutes in their company that they have bonded well and there was a lot of laughter at the press conference, with panto banter already rife.
Most recognisable in the cast will be Tina Barrett (below), formerly of S Club 7 who will take on the role of Beauty.
It's her first pantomime and Tina admits she can't wait to get started, "I am really looking forward to it. When I was offered the part, I wasn't sure I would take it but I'm so glad I did. It's so nice to get dressed up and do theatre again. I did a bit when I left college and I really miss it.
"I am a professional, trained dancer and I worked with the English National Opera as a dancer, then worked with Simply Red and Toni Braxton, so it's nice to go back - it's not like TV when you can go back and do it over again, you only get one time and that's it - and it's so nice having the audience and performing to children. It's such an honour to be performing here."
As a young woman herself, she admits she experienced things that few others will, "S club 7 was amazing. We were so young at the time. It was 5 years and we went all over the world, had our own dolls and did a box office film, Seeing Double.
"We met so many of our idols. We were never in one country for too long - the longest was LA as we filmed our TV show. I feel so blessed to have been in such a wonderful band."
They also inadvertently launched two other young stars of today on their way - Frankie and Rochelle from the Saturdays were part of the successful spin off,
S Club Juniors and Tina admits that she is very proud of their continued success, "We put the band together and they were 12 years old - they have done so well. Aaron is a choreographer now and he's done well. It's lovely to see."
Tina has a few busy months coming up - she is about to release her first solo single, Making Me Dance, on 28th October and has been in the studio with William Orbit and Beanie Man and done some choreography, "I have a single coming out soon, my main thing has been music writing, so this year will be the biggest release for me. It's exciting and busy and it's lovely to be working with Jon (Moses) as well."
Tina had some welcome news to fans out there too, "S Club7 might do something next year - we have been discussing it and we might do something together - but we want it to be special."
Jon Moses (left, with Tina Barrett) will be a familiar face to those of us glued to Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber's Superstar search last summer. He wasn't the winner but, an established artist prior to going on the show, he says that the show was a great experience.
Described as the 'most requested male vocalist in his sector', Jon has travelled the world with his solo show and done lots of theatre work, most recently in Rapunzel.
He loves the buzz of live theatre and, an engaging and lively character, he clearly loves the audience rapport, "I'm a bit mischievous, it's a fun time of year and I think if the audience can see you're having fun, you're more human.
"It's been a crazy year!"
He too is raring to get going, "It's going to be fantastic - it's amazing to get paid for something you enjoy. Christmas is such a special time of year and to walk out of the theatre and see how happy everyone is - to see the kids singing the songs - there's no feeling like it! You can't out a price on it! The theatre is amazing - you can see everyone's face whilst you are performing. Tina and I hit it off straight away."
They say 'there ain't nothing like a Dame' and Beauty and The Beast's Madam Fifi will be played by Danny Mills (below). He has performed at the Pomegranate before, five years ago and, having had fond memories of his time here, is very excited to be back.
Danny is facing his 18th panto, "I am passionate about Panto! I love Panto, everything is great about it. It's children's first introduction to theatre. I was completely mesmerised by my first, in Lincoln and, as soon I was old enough, I was panto-ing, and I have never stopped.
"It's important to build those new audiences, not just now but for the future. Pantos are turning into musical comedies and to keep on filling these beautiful theatres, we need to get the young audiences.
"I am Madam Fifi Camembert - I am requesting that I come on singing 'Sweet dreams are made of cheese!' Evidently, I work for the Count - like a Mrs Potts. Mainly it will be me and Rik (Gaynor) mucking about between the story."
Rik Gaynor proved a hit with audiences last year and is back for another run. A local lad, he is a fellow believer in the power of panto, "The energy and adrenalin rush is great when you go out on stage. Everyone wants a good time and we'll give it to them - whether they like it or not - especially when the water pistols come out!
"It's magical, even from my point of view, standing on stage. I don't do it for the money, I do it because I enjoy it. I like working for Paul (Holman). Paul is a great Producer and has a personal touch even though he has pantos up and down the country."
Although the team had only met 24 hours ahead of the press call, Rik says it will work, "It feels like a family already, although we don't know each other, we all know people who know them. I'll be showing them the nightlife - Chesterfield is good for the nightlife - and the market!"
Danny interjects, "The market is good, I bought some fabric for my frocks from there last time - there's a good stall on there. I have three costumes to make this year - I make my own, right down to my shoes and tights."
Rehearsals for Beauty and the Beast start on the 25th November, and the show opens on the 6th December 2013 through to 5th January 2014.
For booking details, call the Pomegranate Box Office on 01246 345222 or visit www.chesterfieldvenues.co.uk
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