Sunderland Empire panto cast get in the swing of rehearsals

Jack and the Beanstalk rehearsals at Kathleen Davis Stage School'From left Charlie Guest as Simple Simon and Philip Meeks as Dame Trott
Jack and the Beanstalk rehearsals at Kathleen Davis Stage School'From left Charlie Guest as Simple Simon and Philip Meeks as Dame Trott
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We don’t want to milk it - but this year’s pantomime at Sunderland Empire looks udderly great.

The cast of Jack and the Beanstalk - including Daisy the Cow - are well in the swing of rehearsals ahead of opening night on Friday.

Jack and the Beanstalk rehearsals at Kathleen Davis Stage School'Janine Duvitski as The Vegetable Fairy

Jack and the Beanstalk rehearsals at Kathleen Davis Stage School'Janine Duvitski as The Vegetable Fairy

We had a sneak peek of what to expect as the cast went through their scenes with young dancers from Kathleen Davis Stage School, Shameem Karim

School of Performing Arts and The Worx - Dance Theatre Arts.

Donning her crown as Princess Jill is Jade Natalie from TV channel Nick Jr’s Go!Go!Go! programme.

She said: “We started rehearsals last week and we had our first full run through today and it’s going really, really well. People can expect a lot of fun and surprises and some great musical numbers.

Jack and the Beanstalk rehearsals at Kathleen Davis Stage School'David Barratt as Jack

Jack and the Beanstalk rehearsals at Kathleen Davis Stage School'David Barratt as Jack

“It’s fantastic to perform for kids, they are the best audience you can get because they’re so honest and the kids in the show are brilliant too, they’re super talented.”

Speaking about her character, she said: “She’s very feisty, she knows what she wants and is a nice, strong female character.”

Jade will be joined on stage by Janine Duvitski from Benidorm as the Vegetable Fairy, Bill Ward from Emmerdale and Coronation Street as Fleshcreep, Philip Meeks as Dame Trott and Legally Blonde the Musical’s David Barrett as fairy tale hero Jack.

Kathleen Davis, principal at the Kathleen Davis Stage School in High Street West said appearing in pantomime was a great stepping stone into the world of theatre for young Sunderland dancers.

Jack and the Beanstalk rehearsals at Kathleen Davis Stage School'From left David Barratt as Jack and Bill Ward as Fleshcreep

Jack and the Beanstalk rehearsals at Kathleen Davis Stage School'From left David Barratt as Jack and Bill Ward as Fleshcreep

She said: “This is such a wonderful opportunity for them to take part in a professional production. They practice all year and work really hard so to win a place in the panto is the icing on the cake and gives them something to aspire to.

“Working with professional performers like this really inspires them and gives them the chance to see a production from the beginning to the end, from the audition stage, through to rehearsals, to opening night and then in front of an audience.

“The cast are great with them, a lot of them have gone through stage school themselves so they know what it’s like.”

The eight dancers from Kathleen Davis Stage School will rotate the dance roles with the other two schools when the show opens for a three week run from Friday.

Jack and the Beanstalk rehearsals at Kathleen Davis Stage School'From left David Barratt as Jack and Bill Ward as Fleshcreep

Jack and the Beanstalk rehearsals at Kathleen Davis Stage School'From left David Barratt as Jack and Bill Ward as Fleshcreep

The 24 local dancers won the roles after auditions held at the Empire earlier this year.

Performances will include a relaxed performance at 5pm on Wednesday, December 27 which is autism-friendly.

•Jack and the Beanstalk is at Sunderland Empire from December 15 until January 7. Tickets are available from the ticket centre on Tel. 0844 871 3022* or www.ATGtickets.com/Sunderland

Jack and the Beanstalk rehearsals at Kathleen Davis Stage School

Jack and the Beanstalk rehearsals at Kathleen Davis Stage School

Jack and the Beanstalk rehearsals at Kathleen Davis Stage School'Janine Duvitski as The Vegetable Fairy

Jack and the Beanstalk rehearsals at Kathleen Davis Stage School'Janine Duvitski as The Vegetable Fairy

Jack and the Beanstalk rehearsals at Kathleen Davis Stage School

Jack and the Beanstalk rehearsals at Kathleen Davis Stage School