Panto stars launch Jack and the Beanstalk at the Marlowe Theatre
The principal panto cast of Jack and the Beanstalk in Canterbury
EastEnders star Samatha Womack says she hopes to bring a naughty element of her TV character to her role as the Good Fairy in Jack and the Beanstalk at Canterbury’s Marlowe Theatre this Christmas.
Next week, the actress will return to the soap as Ronnie Mitchell, whose controversial story line saw her locked up for three years for kidnapping Kat Moon’s baby son, Tommy.
Samatha Womack who is playing the Good Fairy in Jack and the Beanstalk in Canterbury
Speaking today at the press launch of the pantomime, which opens on November 29, Samantha admitted her gritty EastEnders role could still influence that of her pantomime Good Fairy.
She said: “I’m hoping to bring some of the Mitchell naughtiness to the character of the fairy. I always think it’s nice if you can incorporate a character the audience know you for into a panto role because they expect that a little bit. So I’d like her to be a naughty, cheeky fairy who nicks things.
“I don't mind if they boo me a little bit either because of my part as Ronnie Mitchell. You always want to be someone the audience reacts to, whether good or bad.
“A run of 90 panto shows is new for me but luckily I’m quite hardy, old theatre stock and eight shows a week is normal for me in musicals.
“I love working with kids - they are the best audience. When I did the ITV panto special I enjoyed it so much that I actually asked my agent to find me a panto. I like to say I have given everything a try which is why I have done so many different things in my career. You can’t really pin me down to one particular type because I’m greedy for experience.”
The actress and mum-of-two, has a huge number of television and stage credits, including performing alongside Patrick Swayze in Guys and Dolls and in the lead role in classic musical South Pacific.
She said: “I’ve been spending a lot of time in the studio in Manchester recently filming a new comedy series for Sky called Mount Pleasant, so the idea of getting back on the stage and being a bit silly really appeals to me.”
“Also Canterbury looks really beautiful. I drove in for the first time for the launch and was really struck by it - it’s gorgeous.”
Samatha will be appearing alongside Phil Gallagher - known to millions of children as Mister Maker in CBeebies - as Jack’s brother Silly Billy.
Ben Roddy as Dame Trott and Gemma Sutton as the Princess in Jack and the Beanstalk
Phil, a former student of Christ Church University in Canterbury, is Bafta-nominated performer whose arts and crafts TV show for pre-school children has now gone global.
But he is also a panto veteran and said: “I can’t wait. I love panto so much. Every year when it comes along I get so excited and I think it’s because I’m really just a big kid.
“Being in a panto here at the Marlowe is really special to me because I used to live in Canterbury."
Another Kent performer in the pantomime is Lloyd Hollett who will plays the baddie - Dr Fleshcreep.
He said: “I grew up in Margate and cut my entertainer’s teeth in amateur dramatics, then in holiday camps and on cruise ships.
“This is my 15th panto but I always get very excited. It’s also my third at the Marlowe so it’s great to be back - but this time playing a baddie which will be great fun."
Lloyd Hollett as Dr Fleshcreep in Jack and the Beanstalk
Ben Roddy has been a popular funnyman in four previous pantomimes in Canterbury and stepped in to play the Dame last year after the sad death of panto legend Dave Lee.
Now back as Dame Trott he said: "He said: “The best thing about playing the the Marlowe is the audiences and a packed house every night. Even by the 90th performance on January 12, we won't be tired of it because it’s a new audience every night and so much fun."
Pantomime producer Paul Hendy: “We don’t just pick people to appear in our pantos because they are celebrities, but because they are top notch performers, often with West End pedigrees, like Samatha Womack.
"We also make them appealing to audiences of all ages - from little children to the grandparents.
“That’s why we believe we have one of the best pantos in the country and this year we are hoping it will be seen by 90,000 theatre-goers.
- Click here for more Canterbury news
- Click here for more news from across the county