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Celebrities tell of excitement ahead of Sleeping Beauty at Ilford’s Kenneth More Theatre

PUBLISHED: 12:02 01 November 2019 | UPDATED: 12:11 01 November 2019

Sleeping Beauty opens at the Kenneth More Theatre, Ilford, on December 14. Picture: Rob Brown

Sleeping Beauty opens at the Kenneth More Theatre, Ilford, on December 14. Picture: Rob Brown

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The star-studded cast of Sleeping Beauty show talked to the Recorder this week about all the panto fun they have planned for Christmas at the Kenneth More Theatre.

Bobby Crush plays the dame and Kerry Katona stars as wicked witch Carabosse. Picture: Rob BrownBobby Crush plays the dame and Kerry Katona stars as wicked witch Carabosse. Picture: Rob Brown

It will be the first panto since the theatre (KMT) temporarily closed and Vision RLC took over its management from the Redbridge Theatre Company in September.

Former Atomic Kitten singer and I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here winner Kerry Katona, who will be playing wicked witch Carabosse, said she loves playing the baddie but hates making children cry.

She told the Recorder: "When I played Maleficent I got so into character that I was making all the little kids cry and they had to be taken to the toilet because they were so scared."

She then ran round to them when it wasn't her scene, took off her wig to show them it was all make-believe and plead with the children not to cry and they went back and watched the rest of the show.

Darren Hart and Lauren Platt play Prince Percy and Princess Aurora. Picture: Rob BrownDarren Hart and Lauren Platt play Prince Percy and Princess Aurora. Picture: Rob Brown

However she added: "I also don't think I'm doing a good job if I don't make a kid cry."

Pianist, actor and songwriter Bobby Crush has a long history at the KMT since going as a child when his grandparents lived in Ilford and then performing variety shows and his Liberace: Live from Heaven show there.

The role he keeps returning to is the Dame, which he's been performing for almost 20 years.

He said: "The Dame gets to wear the smartest costumes and get the biggest laughs so what's not to love?"

Krishana Parker is Fairy Starlight and Lauren Platt is Princess Aurora. Picture: Rob BrownKrishana Parker is Fairy Starlight and Lauren Platt is Princess Aurora. Picture: Rob Brown

All the actors talked about what a physical feat it is to perform panto for two or three shows a night and how at the end they will have buckets of sweat pouring off them.

Bobby said: "You're either on stage running around or in the wings changing."

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Darren Hart, of Wanstead, has performed at the National Theatre and came to the KMT as a child. He is excited to performing on th Ilford stage for the first time as Prince Percy.

He said: "Since I'm an east London boy it's a blessing to do something for the people I grew up with. My first job was in a jewelry store in Ilford so it's a trip that I'm performing right down the street at the KMT."

X Factor and CBBC presenter Lauren Platt, who will play Princess Aurora, has fond memories of going to panto shows as a child and her family would book out the entire first two rows.

Sleeping Beauty will mark the second time Lauren has performed with Kerry, who she credits with teaching her how to sing from listening to Atomic Kitten albums as a child.

All the actors talked about the important role that panto plays in a child's life.

Bobby said: "Very often panto is a child's first visit to the theatre so you want to make it as magical as possible to encourage them to come back."

Krishana Parker, who plays Fairy Starlight, said her fiancé's father grew up in Ilford and is losing his memory due to dementia but said his face lit up when she told him she would be performing at the KMT.

She said: "He immediately started telling me about seeing Beauty and the Beast there as a child.

"I can't wait to have him relive his childhood when he sees the show."

Manchester based production company Anton Benson, which stages family entertainment shows across the country, is producing this year's show, which will run from December 14 to January 12 at the theatre in Oakfield Road, Ilford.

Producer Anton said: "We are thrilled and excited to have been entrusted with the responsibility of continuing the long standing tradition of providing a high quality, family friendly pantomime at Kenneth More Theatre this Christmas, in association with the venue's new operator Vision RCL."

To book tickets visit visionrcl.org.uk/event/sleeping-beauty.

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