Panto star Ceri Dupree talks about starring in the country's biggest show at Birmingham Hippodrome
It’s been dubbed one of the best pantomimes to ever hit the West Midlands.
Cinderella, at Birmingham Hippodrome, has dazzled crowds after pairing comedian Matt Slack with Wolverhampton singer Beverley Knight, reality stars Suzanne Shaw and Matt Slack and drag queen Ceri Dupree, who plays an ugly sister alongside David Dale.
The show runs until January 28.
Ceri has been delighting audiences worldwide for almost 30 years. His unique talents have led him through musical theatre, pantomime, summer seasons, television and cabaret. There isn’t an audience – age or type – that he hasn’t played to.
He has performed at various major venues throughout England, Ireland, Scotland and his birthplace Wales including numerous appearances at top class hotels like The Savoy, The Dorchester, The Churchill, The Landmark and Claridges.
International work has included appearances in Greece, France, Holland, Spain, Germany South Africa and the Seychelles.
Ceri has appeared in many West End nightclubs including The Café de Paris, Talk of London, The Stork Club, Le Beat Route, Ronnie Scott’s and Pizza on the Park.
He appeared twice nightly, six nights a week – and never missed a show – for two years at the world famous Madame Jo Jo’s in London’s West End, followed by three years at Minsky’s music hall in Cardiff.
His extensive repertoire of theatre shows include Hello Dolly, Rock Hard, Hot Stuff, The Ultimate Hen Party, The Wizard of Oz and The Rocky Horror Show as Frank-n-Furter.
He was thrilled to be asked to play in Cinderella and believes it’s a crackerjack show.
“I can get the gear on in 45 minutes but I like to take longer. I don’t like to rush. I get in, I get made up and then it’s on all days. Sometimes, between shows, there can be three hours. But it’s pointless taking it all off because you’ve only got to put it all back on again afterwards.
“I stay in the dressing room. I know some people go out but I’m terrible. I just stay in the dressing room when I’ve got the gear on.
“You have to be careful of doors. You forget.”
Ceri says it’s great to feature in the biggest pantomime in the country and this year’s show has been made all the better because of great camaraderie between the cast.
“The Birmingham Hippodrome is the biggest production of them all. It’s great.”
Ceri was also happy to team up with David Dale as the hideous Ugly Sisters. They have strong Midlands connections, having previously played at Wolverhampton’s Grand Theatre. “The last time we played together was in 1989 in Wolverhampton. It was great. It was so wonderful that 30 years later they’ve asked us to do it again.
“It was a long run, it didn’t finish until February. But this is a long run, it goes to the end of January.
“This is the biggest panto in the UK. It’s bigger than the London Palladium. But Birmingham is still the flagship.”
Ceri says this year’s show featured fantastic costumes and an amazing set.
“We have 12 costume changes. I’ve worn some stuff over the years but these are the best and biggest things ever. We’re almost wearing pieces of scenery. When the producer came to us I told him every entrance we made had to be huge. It just builds and builds and builds until we reach the finale.
“Everyone’s favourite show is Cinderella and the kids love it. Panto is all about the magic. The children believe that we’re two ugly and wicked sisters. That’s the great joy of panto – the children.”
The chemistry between Ceri and David is key.
Ceri was asked by the show’s producer who he wanted to play alongside and he picked out his fellow Ugly Sister.
“We’re mates. He’s done about 30 years of panto. We hang out.
“Once it’s all up and running, you get so much fun out of it. When you see the kids, it’s great. They are in awe of it. They believe in it. It’s the only form of entertainment in the UK when the whole family can see it all. They don’t go to summer seasons or ice shows because they are hardly ever on. And musicals aren’t for kids. But that’s what panto is. You see lots of grandparents with their kids and there’s nothing more magical. It’s such a great atmosphere. It’s across the board, from two to 92.”