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Panto launch for Beauty and the Beast in Maidstone starring Hollyoaks actor and reality TV personality Jake Quickenden

Actor and singer Jake Quickenden has plenty of experiences to bring to this year's panto.

He was in Maidstone as today marks the countdown to Hazlitt Theatre's Beauty and the Beast.

The cast of Beauty and the Beast with children from Valley Invicta Primary School at Leybourne Chase Picture: Andy Jones
The cast of Beauty and the Beast with children from Valley Invicta Primary School at Leybourne Chase Picture: Andy Jones

The show was officially launched today at Kent Life, in Sandling.

Its baddie Danon is being played by Jake, who will shortly appear on screens in Channel 4's soap Hollyoaks as builder Woody.

He rose to fame through two appearances on X Factor, I'm a Celebrity in 2015, before winning ITV's Dancing on Ice last year.

Describing himself as a singer, actor and dancer and a "Jack of all trades and master of none," Jake added: "I am really looking forward to getting booed and making people's Christmases a bit better.

"I've always loved panto and watching it as a kid, so it is a real honour. I've always been a bit cheeky, and naughty so I probably won't put on a baddie voice. I am a bit of a wind-up - I am very good at that."

Jake Quickenden and six-year-old Ted Walker, from Maidstone
Jake Quickenden and six-year-old Ted Walker, from Maidstone

He added: "Everything on Dancing on Ice was tough - with panto you have long days and three shows a day, but you get to perform, which is great."

Jake has currently been based in Liverpool while filming Hollyoaks, but his home is in Essex. His contract is currently for around six episodes, but says he would jump at the chance to return if he was asked back.

Beauty will be played by Martha-Frances Henry, Sarah Hooper is the Enchantress and Jon Conway is Doc.

Beast will be played by Will Elliot, currently performing on board a Royal Caribbean cruise ship and David Zachary plays Djon. William Hodges, who grew up in Maidstone, plays DC. A former Maidstone Grammar School pupil, he has recently graduated from the East 15 Acting School, after learning the ropes with the Hazlitt Youth Theatre.

Of course no production is complete without its Dame and this role, aka Mademoiselle Marmalade, falls to Ian Good, who has 40 pantomime appearances under his belt.

Ian Good as Mademoiselle Marmalade
Ian Good as Mademoiselle Marmalade

Speaking of his early appearances as various dames he said: "They were rubbish. I tried to play them as women. Which isn't really the point."

Pupils from Valley Invicta Primary School at Leybourne Chase will be designing a special dress which will be worn by Mr Good on stage.

Beauty and the Beast runs at the Hazlitt Theatre, in Earl Street, Maidstone, from Saturday, November 30 until Tuesday, December 31. The box office is on 01622 758611.


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