Fe-fi-fo-fum: Giant panto Jack and the Beanstalk coming to Telford
Fe-Fi-Fo-Fum – it's nearly pantomime season in Telford, and this time it's going to be giant.
The cast and crew of Jack and the Beanstalk got together to launch this year's panto, which will be coming to Oakengates Theatre on December 11.
It was the first time many of them had met ahead of rehearsals later this year, but they said they were looking forward to having a lot of fun in Shropshire this year.
Starring Oliver Mellor - best known for his role as Dr Matt Carter in Coronation Street - as Fleshcreep, the cast will be joined by comedian Carl Dutfield in the role of Jack and cabaret star Tim Ames as Dame Trott.
The cast is rounded out by Chloe Barlow, who will be making her debut in pantomime playing Princess Jill, and Spencer Gibbins as The King.
Carl, who is returning to Telford by popular demand after a his performance as Buttons in Cinderella last year last year, said: "I loved it last year. I wanted to come back as a comedy character this year, so we mixed the two roles together; I'm Jack and the comedy. It's an honour for them to want me back and for them to want to mix the two roles.
"I really enjoy being the comedy character. I like to be the joker – to me it's not even acting, it's just me. I just get to be myself on stage."
Carl began his career working for Haven Holidays before going onto Butlin's as a Redcoat.
"My first pantomime I did for a holiday company, and I was understudy Jack," he said. "I've gone full circle after 13 years in entertainment."
Fleshcreep Oliver, who also had roles in Cold Feet, Eastenders and Doctor Who, said he was happy to be playing the villain.
"I've done five or six pantos and I learnt very quickly that an under-energised performance just doesn't work," he said. "You've got to throw yourself into it from the word go.
"It's lovely for me to play someone that's away from my casting – not the love interest, the nice guy or the prince. I'm the one that everybody boos at, I get to sneer at everybody. I want to bring some naughtiness and humour to him.
"I love the challenge of pantomime. I've done a few where I've loved it so much – the combination of script, production and the rest of the cast.
"When you get it right and you see the kids wowed by the visuals, but the jokes go over their heads and you get a chuckle from the adults, that's when you've got it right."
Spencer said pantomime was an important way to introduce children to the theatre.
"The King is a buffoon really," he said. "He's means well. He gets things done, but sometimes he's a big muddled.
"The cast only met yesterday but we have already gelled. There are some shows where no matter how hard you try, you do not gel, but with this company it happened straight away. We are all on the same wavelength.
"Pantomime is a great thing to start children off appreciating the theatre. It something they have probably never been before and they realise there's something going on that isn't a screen. They're used to film, television, and here's all these live people. More often than not the heroes and the villains come down into the audience, and that is magical for children."
Dame Tim said: "Everybody is gelling really nicely. it's always slightly nerve-wracking, because 'he's appeared there, he must be good', but it's lovely when everything falls into place and everybody seems lovely.
"As the make-up comes on, the dress comes on, the character gets bigger and bigger. It doesn't ever stop being a man in a dress – there's a lot of me in the part. The character is a bigger, warmer, slightly more bitter version of me."
Councillor Rae Evans, Telford & Wrekin Council’s cabinet member for leisure services, said: "Pantomime brings everybody together. Telford is about community and everybody having a great time and pantomime really does that. It's such fun. It's a time when you can go out and lose yourself in something quite ridiculous.
"I'm really proud of our staff. The pantomime is the high point of the year for them. They work hard to get the right script and players, and they do a great job on that.
"Telford & Wrekin Council owns Oakengates Theatre and we're proud of that. Maximising sales helps us to do more and retain that theatre."
Jack and the Beanstalk will run from December 11 to January 5..
Tickets cost from £8 and can be purchased online at theplacetelford.com or from the Box Office on 01952 382382.