“EXPECT a great night out,” say the stars of this year’s panto at the Sunderland Empire.
The cast of Cinderella are now rehearsing in the city ahead of opening night next week, and they say Wearside audiences can look forward to a show full of festive cheer.
At the helm of the Empire show are former Brookside actor Dean Sullivan as Baron Hardup, Loose Women panellist and soap actress Sherrie Hewson as the Fairy Godmother, Amy Thompson from Channel 5’s Milkshake as the eponymous heroine and Jamie Rickers from CITV and Nickleodeon as Buttons.
Dean, formerly Jimmy Corkhill in the long-running Channel 4 soap, said: “Rehearsals are going really well.
“The kids joined us on Saturday, and they were great. We’re just working on the musical numbers now.
“Cinderella is the most celebrated traditional panto of all time. Everyone knows the story, but they can also expect a show full of fun, humour and colour – a great night out.”
Dean said he is enjoying his time on Wearside while he stays here for the duration of the show, running until January 5.
“I’m staying in a lovely house in Cold Hesledon,” he said.
“It’s great because I have a mini schnauzer, and there’s lots of countryside and beach to walk her.
“I went to the local pub yesterday and everyone was so friendly and welcoming, just like Liverpudlians.
“It’s funny because Brookside finished 10 years ago last month, but every day I still get recognised. It’s a great compliment to the show.
“I think it was so popular because it was so different and ground-breaking.
“It was shot in real houses, often with real light, and it dealt with issues that affect people.”
Cinderella, opening next Friday, also features Owen Thompson as Prince Charming, Bobby Windebank as Dandini, Jamie Morris and Tarot Joseph as the dastardly Ugly Sisters, plus Shetland ponies live on stage.
It’s the second year running of playing Cinderella for actress Amy Thompson and she says she’s a character close to her heart.
“I always look forward to the transformation scene,” she said. “It’s such a pure princess moment. In terms of pantomime, I think Cinderella is the most beautiful story.
“In this show there’s a great mix of humour and song, from traditional to current. There’s something for everyone, whether you’re four or 104.”
The Hull-born actress added: “I’m really enjoying being in Sunderland, it’s such a friendly place.
“I got the train up the other day and got on the Metro with my big case and three people offered me their seat. I knew from then that I was going to like it here.”
l Cinderella will be on at the Sunderland Empire from December 13 to January 5. Tickets are £11.90 to £32.40 from 0844 871 3022.