Sunderland Empire pantomime cast prepare for opening night

Sleeping Beauty panto rehearsals
Faye Tozer as The Good Fairy
Sleeping Beauty panto rehearsals Faye Tozer as The Good Fairy
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Yule love Sleeping Beauty - say the cast of this year’s Sunderland Empire pantomime.

The stars of the show are in full swing of rehearsals for the festive spectacular which opens on Friday for its Christmas run.

Sleeping Beauty panto rehearsals
Amy-Leigh Hickman as Princess Briar Rose and Arthur Boan as The Prince

Sleeping Beauty panto rehearsals Amy-Leigh Hickman as Princess Briar Rose and Arthur Boan as The Prince

It’s a particularly special show for former Steps star Faye Tozer, aka The Good Fairy, who now lives in nearby East Boldon after marrying Sunderland-born Michael Smith.

She now considers Sunderland her home city and says she can’t wait to get audiences in the festive mood.

Speaking last week, she said: “It’s five days into rehearsals and we’ve already come off book, which means we’ve learnt our lines, so it’s going really well. “I haven’t done my flying training yet though, so that will be interesting.”

Speaking about what audiences can expect, she said: “I don’t want to give too much away but it has the silliness of Shrek and is very magical, there’s lots of beautiful things to look at. It’s funny too, there’s plenty of jokes for the adults, as well as the children.”

Sleeping Beauty panto rehearsals

Sleeping Beauty panto rehearsals

Unlike the rest of the cast, who stay in digs, Faye will get to go home every night after the show.

“It’s amazing to be able to spend Christmas at home,” she said. “But on the down side I have a million jobs to do that you don’t have to do on tour like washing and ironing.

“It’s great being in Sunderland for Christmas though, it’s looking really festive.”

In the title role of the show is Amy-Leigh Hickman who’ll be sleeping on the job as Princess Briar Rose

Sleeping Beauty panto rehearsals
Faye Tozer as The Good Fairy

Sleeping Beauty panto rehearsals Faye Tozer as The Good Fairy

“It’s all coming together really well,” said the actress who’s best-known for her roles in Eastenders, CBBC’s Tracy Beaker Returns and its sequel, The Dumping Ground.

She added: “The cast are all getting on really well and we’ve all been hanging out, so there’s a great chemistry there already.”

Amy is staying in the area for the duration of the run and says it’s great to be back in the North East.

“We filmed Tracey Beaker up here so I have friends living in Newcastle and I really like Sunderland,” she said.

Sleeping Beauty panto rehearsals

Sleeping Beauty panto rehearsals

Faye and Amy-Leigh will be joined on stage by former Coronation Street star Vicky Entwistle as Carabosse; PC Plum from Balamory, Andrew Agnew, as Silly Billy and Bobby Crush as Nurse Nelly.

•Sleeping Beauty is at Sunderland Empire from December 9-31. Tickets are available from 0844 871 3022.

Sleeping Beauty panto rehearsals

Sleeping Beauty panto rehearsals