Jack and the Beanstalk cast check out Sunderland’s giant foliage

The cast of Jack and the Beanstalk at the Museum and Winter Gardens
The cast of Jack and the Beanstalk at the Museum and Winter Gardens
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Sunderland Empire’s panto stars are full of beans about opening night.

After weeks of rehearsals, Jack and co are set to scale new heights in Jack and the Beanstalk when it opens for its three week festive run.

Sunderland Empire opening day for panto Jack and the Beanstalk'David Barrett as Jack and Jade Natalie as Princess Jill

Sunderland Empire opening day for panto Jack and the Beanstalk'David Barrett as Jack and Jade Natalie as Princess Jill

The show is produced by the same company as last year’s Sleeping Beauty and features a host of well-known faces who’ve been getting to know Sunderland with a trip to the Museum and Winter Gardens to check out the city’s own giant foliage.

As well as classic family fun, this year’s panto is also set to feature 3D effects.

Hoping for boos tonight will be Coronation Street and Emmerdale star Bill Ward who takes on the villainous role of the giant’s henchman, Fleshcreep.

Born and bred in Newcastle, the TV and stage actor, who’s taken a break from appearing in a tour of Legally Blonde to appear in panto, says he’s looking forward to being in his home region for the festivities.

Sunderland Empire opening day for panto Jack and the Beanstalk

Sunderland Empire opening day for panto Jack and the Beanstalk

Joining him on stage is Janine Divitski, who’s swapping the sunshine of ITV show Benidorm for Sunderland, as the Vegetable Fairy.

Meanwhile children’s TV favourite Jade Natalie from Nick Jr’s GO GO GO stars as Princess Jill, who’ll be wooed by hero Jack, played by Legally Blonde the Musical’s David Barrett.

•Jack and the Beanstalk is running at Sunderland Empire until January 7. Tickets are available from the Box Office on High Street West, via the ticket centre 0844 871 3022 or www.ATGtickets.com/Sunderland. There will also be a special relaxed performance on Wednesday December 27 at 5pm.