One of the stars of this year’s Hastings pantomime has told audiences to ‘expect the unexpected’.
Jack and the Beanstalk will run from December 14 to December 30 at the White Rock Theatre, starring X Factor entertainer Chico and actress Michelle Collins.
The duo were in town on Friday (October 12) to talk about the upcoming show and what audiences can expect.
Chico said: “Expect the unexpected. It’s a fabulous story, it really is a great story. I’ve played Jack before – probably, this is my fifth one, so I kind of know a little bit about it. It’s probably one of my favourites.
“I love it [doing panto], especially now I’ve got my two children and they’re a perfect age for panto. They’ve got that bug themselves, they’re the entertainers in the family – certainly my daughter is, 12 years old. One of us can sing in the family, trust me!”
Both Chico and Michelle are no strangers to pantomime having done at least 10 shows each. Nor are they strangers to the south coast.
Michelle said: “I used to come here as a kid to old Hastings, my mum used to bring us down here. We used to go to Chichester and Hastings and then I did panto about – ohh, a long, long time ago, 20 odd years ago at the De La Warr, which is just down the road in Bexhill-on-Sea. It’s beautiful, it’s lovely to be opposite the seafront. It’s really nice, I love being by the sea.”
Chico also said he ‘loves’ Hastings after visiting on a number of occasions to do some charity work.
The pair, who have met before but never worked together before, will start rehearsals on December 3 – less than two weeks before the show’s opening night.
Chico said: “When you come in and you have a look at the script and you have a look at what you’ve got to learn, including choreography and whatnot – honestly, for those 10 days my head is frazzled. But we somehow manage to get it done, always, by the end of that launch night.
“Look, it’s hard work but it’s absolutely worth it. For some people, this is where it all starts. I think anyone who’s ever become anybody in the acting world has seen their first pantomime. It’s got everything in it and now the production value is absolutely up there. You got some brilliant actors doing it.
“There is family value because you can get the two year olds, the mums, the dads, the grandpas and everything, and it’s a tradition that’s been carried on for so long, so I think it’s beautiful to keep that magic.”
Michelle added: “I think it’s that time of year where families can go and see something together and I think that’s really important with what’s going on in the world. It’s just nice you can have those times.
“And I think also this is quite a traditional sort of panto, which is quite nice actually. It’s often the first time a lot of kids have gone to the theatre as well. Panto’s got bigger and bigger over the years, much much bigger, and more popular I think. And more actors are doing it as well, because it’s only a small part of the year and it is fun, it’s really good fun actually. It’s sort of hard work but it’s good fun.”
The stars said to expect lots of colour for this year’s show and above all, lots of magic.
To book tickets, visit https://whiterocktheatre.org.uk/Online/panto-hastings-east-sussex-pantomime.