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Former Steps star Ian H Watkins helps launch the pantomime at the Hazlitt Theatre in Maidstone

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Former Steps star sprinkled some Christmas magic on sunny Maidstone when he joined fellow cast members for the launch of this year’s Hazlitt Theatre pantomime.

It may be September, but that didn’t stop managers beginning the countdown to the festive season with Ian “H” Watkins.

He will play Prince Charming in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at the theatre in Earl Street, which kicks off on Friday, December 5.

The Welsh singer is hoping for big things from the County Town. “I want Maidstone to be magical. It is a beautiful little market town. I will be spending Christmas in Maidstone, so I am hoping it will be magical.”

Fresh from his appearances on the BBC gymnastics show Tumble, he is currently carrying some aches and pains.

“I need two weeks at least to recover. I won’t tell you how many injuries and aches I have. I’m exhausted too - I’ve been up at 4.30am for three months. It has been a gruelling few months.”

But once rehearsals and the show’s run begin, however, you may not spot him around the town.

Some of the cast of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs outside the Hazlitt
Some of the cast of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs outside the Hazlitt

“I stick my hat and glasses on and go about my business. People call me “H” if they see me, but I don’t mind - I have been being called that since I was nine.”

Despite having left his Steps days behind him, he will be more than happy to reprise some of the famous dance routines for the show. “If they want me to do it, I will.”

A keen amateur artist, he spends much of his spare time relaxing by painting landscapes in his native Wales, although he also likes abstract work. He is currently working on an exhibition of his art.

He will be joined on stage by panto regular Jimmy Burton Iles, as the dame, who lives in Maidstone and is back by popular demand, and comedy duo Double Trouble, Damian Patton, whose uncle is one half of the Chuckle Brothers, and Tom Rolfe.

Producer Gary Telfer said: “We are so lucky to have Ian H Watkins from Steps. He has just finished competing in the final of the BBC primtime show Tumble.

“Most people will know him from his Steps career where as part of the group he has sold over 20m records worldwide. He’s a great guy and the audiences are going to love him.”

Ian H Watkins
Ian H Watkins

It is the first year the show will be staged in the recently refurbished theatre, which is now under the management of Parkwood Theatres.

It will run until Sunday, January 4. To book, call 01622 758611 or visit www.hazlitttheatre.com

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