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Bournemouth Panto Launch!

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Bournemouth Pavilion have launched their 2011 pantomime, Jack in the Beanstalk, with a sun-drenched soirée at Aruba’s Restaurant on Bournemouth Pier.

With a superb cast, headed by Bournemouth favourite, CBeebies star Chris Jarvis, and including Debra Stephenson (The Impressions Show and Coronation Street) and Brian Capron (Coronation Street’s nasty Richard Hillman), Eastender’s “Mr Lister” Nick Wilton as Dame Trott, and Wave 105’s Kate Weston, this year’s panto, Jack and the Beanstalk is set to be just as successful as last year’s sublime Cinderella, by the same production team.

We met up with just a few of the cast to find out more about the show and their roles:

Chris Jarvis (Silly Billy, Director)
The wonderful thing about Jack is that there is a proper cuddly dame, who is also a good person in the pantomime, rather than Ugly Sisters, who are baddies – good fun - but baddies. This year having had Snow White with no dame, and Peter Pan with no dame in recent years, then Cinderella last year, I’m glad to say we’ve got our dame back, who is normally the main stay of any pantomime. This year we have Nick (Wilton) who if I had to likened him to somebody else’s dame, it would be Terry Scott – you know, a real bloke in DMs. He makes a really cuddly dame as he’s quite big, and we are really lucky to have got him as we’ve been trying to get him for ages. A great dame is one of the key components of the panto, and then to have got Debra (Stephenson) and Brian Capron – two huge names, who are still on telly every week. Fantastic!

Debra lives in the area, like me, and we’re old friends. So we’re both really lucky to be living in Bournemouth and doing the show here.

Jack and the Beanstalk is a tricky panto to do, and there are so many different elements – we have a cow, we have a beanstalk that has got to grow, a hen that lays eggs, and a magic harp. There is quite a bit of magic in it. And of course the giant – it is a great moment when he comes out. We’ve got some great sets again too.

But the primary thing with this panto is comedy. The economy’s rubbish, and there’s doom and gloom, so we all want a laugh. This will be family entertainment. It’ll be double entendre, but it will be good clean family panto fun. That’s what we’re going for – all very accessible, good songs – giving people exactly what they want.

I play Silly Billy, who is the runt of Dame Trott’s litter, although her other son, Jack is very idle as well, but he then becomes a hero, because he gets lucky with a fairy who gives him a magic sword to slay the giant (of course!), and beat Brian Capron’s baddie, Fleshcreep. Silly Billy is a bit of fun along the way really – not a lot of plot, but he’s the silly brother. I get to mix with the audience while Jack is the hero and does all the fighting and rescues the princess. I just mess around and stop the story moving on too quickly, otherwise it would be all over in five minutes!

The day before the panto launch it was announced that the historic Bournemouth Pier theatre was to close, as a local supporter of the arts we asked Chris what he thought
I am really sad about the pier closing down of course.

We will be going there very soon to do the annual variety club show for disadvantaged kids in the area. It is like D-day when they all go down there in their wheel chairs! It is fantastic and very moving!

It is always such an event going down the pier to see something in that lovely old theatre, so it’s a shame, but what do I know about money? What is good is that the Pavilion have had such a good season, with big successes like Calendar Girls and Dreamboats and Petticoats. It shows there is still an audience for live theatre.

I guess the problem with the pier is you have to pay 50p just to go down to the theatre to find out what’s on. It can’t be easy, but even so. Originally I didn’t take too much notice to the stories as I thought it wouldn’t happen, but I saw that piece in the Echo the other day and now I am getting a bit worried about it. It “is a case that we have to do something soon other wise it will go”.

Kate Weston (Fairy)
Well (sitting in a costume that rather gives it away) I am playing Fairy. In every panto there is force for good and evil so yes I am the force for good with my magic wand! I make sure that good prevails and that Jack makes it down the Beanstalk.

I have a house in Bournemouth although I have been working away for donkeys years, so that was one of the attractions in doing panto in Bournemouth this year. My in-laws both live here so I can leave my little one with them while I’m working. I’ve been taking my little boy to see panto since he was about 2 or 3, it is totally normal for him to see that mummy does this, and of course daddy is an actor too. In fact the whole family is quite artistic so he has grown up with it. I do not know if he will follow me into the theatre but he is particularly excited about this year because of Chris, he’s a huge fan of Chris and Pui on CBeebies, so huge credibility for mummy this time!

I have done loads of panto, so many that I have lost count. I really believe kids today still love pantomime, that there is still a place for it, and a place for children in the theatre. They love all the colour and the music and the dancing. It’s great as a Mum to be able to take your children to live theatre and that they really enjoy it.

Debra Stephenson (Jack)
I don’t know that much about Jack and the Beanstalk and I haven’t done this one before, although I do remember seeing it.

I can’t wait to see how they do the beanstalk, and the giant – that is always the exciting bit, how are they going to do the giant? When I saw it in Poole, they had Britain’s tallest man!

I was in Peter Pan at the Lighthouse (Poole) last year, and that was great. I loved the flying and all the make believe. I’m looking forward to climbing that beanstalk!

I am getting to really enjoy panto, and it is brilliant to be able to work from home. My kids really like panto as well. I live in Poole now (Chris introduced the place to me and persuaded me what a great place it is to live) and pass up a lot of work that would take me away so I can be with my kids and work from home. Although I still love TV work and theatre I think your priorities change, certainly when you become a Mum. I’d rather be at home as much as I can now.

It’s still my ambition to tread the boards in the west end, but for now I would rather be here where my children are than follow my career in London. May be later when the children are older. There is more TV work coming up but I am able to limit it to during the week so that I get back home for the weekend. We wanted to be able to relax when we weren’t working and down here it feels as though you are on holiday. We love the beach and have got lovely Poole Harbour on the door step.

Jack and the Beanstalk The Bournemouth Pavilion Pantomime. Sat 3 December 2011 to Sun 2 January 2012


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