Preparations for new Lichfield Garrick pantomime in full swing

It seems strange to be talking about a Christmas panto on a sunny September afternoon, but hey, that’s how things are in done theatre land where our favourite seasonal entertainment is a whole year in the making.

At the launch of this year’s brand new Garrick panto Jack and the Beanstalk I caught up with the show’s creator Ian Adams, who also just happens to be one of the best panto dames in the business and one of the show’s main stars.

“I started writing this Jack and the Beanstalk over a year ago,” he told me. “It’s come full circle in a way because Jack was my very first panto for the Garrick all those years ago.”

Some of the cast of Jack and the Beanstalk

Some of the cast of Jack and the Beanstalk

So what’s new about this production, I wonder.

“Well,” says Ian. “Of course it’s the traditional story with lots of old gags as you’d expect, but with plenty of twists and a lot of surprises especially in the second act.

“It’s got a great team too including John Brooking as our excellent designer, and of course Graham Cole (The Bill) is back playing against type as the baddie after his last role for us in A Christmas Carol.

“We’ve got a great new musical director in David Culling who’s done a great job on the score making sure there’s lots of singing and lots of dancing which means I’ve had to get myself a new pair of tap shoes. And it’s visually stunning as well – designer John Brooking has really gone to town on the sets and costumes – Cinders last year was glittery but this year he’s really pulled all the stops out.

“Everyone else is new but dance supremo Lizzie Alderson is back and the dancers are really good already!”

When I caught up later with Graham Cole he was full of enthusiasm for his part as the baddie.

“It’s great to be doing something different this year,” he says. “and I’m thrilled to be back in Lichfield.

“Last year I was on tour at Christmas and didn’t manage to get home at all, but this year will be very special because my wife Cherry loves it here and will be coming with me. My wife’s my rock. We’ve been married now for 41 years.”

He’s full of relish for the show this year. He was Scrooge four years ago here in Lichfield and his Christmas track record also includes playing Abanazer in Norwich as well as White Christmas in the West End.

This year, in this his 31st Christmas show he’ll be another baddie as the giant’s henchman Squire Hemlock.

“He’s rather full of himself,” says Graham. “But at the same time he’s a snivelling sycophant to his master the Giant.

“There’ll be plenty of hiss and boo. My view of villainy is the kids must be crying and taken out, or I’m not doing my job.”

You have been warned!

Jack and the Beanstalk runs at the Lichfield Garrick from December 3 until January 3. For tickets phone the box office on 01543 412121 or go online at www.lichfieldgarrick.com.

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