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Blue and Masterchef star Duncan James joins cast of Marlowe Theatre Christmas panto for launch

Former boy band star Duncan James hopes to bring some magic to the county this Christmas when he performs in panto here for the first time.

The performer, who recently appeared on Celebrity Masterchef, will play the title role in Jack and the Beanstalk at the Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury this year - and he can't wait.

The cast of Jack and the Beanstalk at the Marlowe Theatre
The cast of Jack and the Beanstalk at the Marlowe Theatre

The former Blue singer said: "I really love panto season. It takes me back to my childhood and going to see a panto with my mum.

"I love that parents can come to see some live theatre. To be part of something so special at Christmas makes me feel, as a performer, really happy."

"It's so nice to get out and watch some live theatre and actually bring some magic to the stage and that's what panto does."

He revealed that his friend Rita Simons, who played Roxy in EastEnders, had recommended he work with Evolution Productions, who have been putting on the Marlowe's production for more than a decade, after appearing in their production at the Marlowe back in 2015.

He said he was excited at the prospect, having last performed at the theatre in Priscilla Queen Of The Desert, but admitted he hadn't seen a script yet, saying: "I am an Evolution virgin."

Duncan James found fame in Blue
Duncan James found fame in Blue

The former boy band star will appear alongside panto favourite Ben Roddy as Dame Trott in his 12th panto at the theatre, with Marc Pickering back as the baddie and in temperatures of 30 degrees the cast got into their costumes for the first time today, along with a pantomime cow.

Duncan revealed that he plans to stay in the city during the panto run rather than commute home to London, and even hopes to attend a Christmas Day service at the Cathedral with his mum.

He added that he would be combining a TV show, which will be broadcast in December, with some of the panto run, though details of the show are still currently under wraps.

Emily Wood of producers Evolution Productions said: "I think for most people when the panto is back then the Marlowe is properly back.

"It means so much to people - it means a family Christmas, with the town buzzing. It is exciting and it is fun. We just want to have a good laugh."

Jack and the Beanstalk is launched outside the Marlowe Theatre
Jack and the Beanstalk is launched outside the Marlowe Theatre

She added: "It has been a difficult year for everyone in the industry. Opening night, we will all be in bits because it will be an emotional moment."

Jack And The Beanstalk runs from Friday, November 26 until Sunday, January 9, 2022. Tickets can be booked at marlowetheatre.com or via the box office on 01227 787787.

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