The innuendo-filled banter was in full flow as a veteran Dame helped launch a popular theatre’s most expensive pantomime yet.
Mrs Smee put deputy Maidstone mayor, Cllr Martin Cox, in his place as he dared to ask to see the back of her amazing frock at the launch of The Hazlitt’s annual panto at the town’s Archbishop’s Palace in Maidstone this afternoon.
“You just want to see me from behind,” she joked. “Simper down now; you’ve had your fun.”
Joe Meloy as Mrs Smee is making his second appearance at the Earl Street venue for its production of Peter Pan, and says he can’t wait to bring the magic of the show to families again.
He said: “I just love the magic of it and the fact there may be a child in the audience who it is their first time watching something on stage and to be a part of that is just magic.”
This particular show, which is the most expensive pantomime to perform according to The Hazlitt’s general manager, Martin Cleverley, has been a long time coming.
But Martin is expecting record ticket sales surpassing their previous record of 19,000 tickets sold.
The small theatre which only holds 350 seats prides itself on investing its money in the quality of the production and the experience of it, rather than having a big celebrity name.
Martin said: “Spending £50,000 on an ex-EastEnders or Casualty star is futile. We would rather have high-quality performances rather than trading on a celebrity name.”
He admitted Peter Pan was a show Parkwood Productions had put off performing for a long time.
“It’s the most expensive panto,” he said. “Some of the characters fly and the cost of that is huge.”
He said he decided to do it this year because the time felt right.
“It was the right time to bring it here. It’s a panto with a story and a bit of teeth to it and we are ready to tell that story.”
But there is a slight twist as Martin says they have brought the production up to date.
“We have adapted the script for the different society of today,” he said. “Some of the language was not appropriate so we have changed that a bit.”
And the lost boys are no longer lost boys.
“We wanted to make them more relatable for children,” he said. “So they are a group of scouts going on an adventure.”
The cast decked out in all their finery to launch this year’s Christmas extravaganza joked about the fact they only have one week to rehearse.
“In that week we build one version,” said David Zachary, who plays Stinky. “But it changes constantly. You will never see the same show twice.”
Martin said as long as it has the vague basis of the rehearsal in the main show he is happy for the cast to “mess about” and change it around ”.
The production will also have relaxed shows which will be adapted so there will be no special effects, quieter music and the cast will repeat their use of sign language as they did in last year’s panto.
Matt Monfort, who is playing Peter Pan, defies anyone to not have a good time.
“It’s good fun. I don’t know anybody who goes to a panto and leaves not having had a great time. It’s a good family night out.”
This year’s charity will be Great Ormond Street Hospital which was seen as the obvious choice because of the children in the show.
Performances will run from November 25 to December 31.