EXCLUSIVE: British comedy legend Jennifer Saunders (Completely Fabulous, French and Saunders) will make her pantomime debut as Captain Hook in Peter Pan this winter vacation season on the world well-known London Palladium.
The highest-of-the-bill casting coup was the brainchild of Michael Harrison, of Michael Harrison Leisure and Crossroads Pantomimes. He’s the UK’s pantomime supremo with 24 panto productions set to open throughout the nation in December.
“I assumed: ‘Hi there! Captain Hook is usually performed by a person and I assumed why not do a gender change? It’s what pantomime is all about, isn’t it?” Harrison advised us.
The comedian efficiency artist and author Rob Madge (My Son’s a Queer, (However what are you able to do?)) will play Tinker Bell.
Peter Pan will run on the Palladium from December 9-January 14.
Final yr, Harrison booked Saunders’ longtime comedy accomplice Daybreak French (The Vicar of Dibley, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Demise on the Nile) to play the title hero’s mom in Jack and the Beanstalk on the Palladium. “So Jennifer is aware of what she’s in for,” Harrison mentioned, adopted by guffaws of laughter.
Saunders just lately appeared on London phases as Madame Arcadia in Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit. It was directed by Richard Eyre, who additionally directed her within the movie Allelujah.
“It’s very lavish, spectacular,” mentioned Harrison, noting that final yr audiences talked in regards to the dimension of the beanstalk in Jack and the Beanstalk that soared upstage. ”Nicely, this yr they’ll be speaking about our crocodile! Sure, there’ll clearly be a crocodile. It’s Peter Pan on the Palladium, it’ll be very excessive.”
The massive croc can be created by Twins FX.
Pantomimes are undoubtedly not for the faint-hearted. “They are often riotous at occasions however Jennifer’s a confirmed comedian genius. For starters, simply her sauntering on stage as Captain Hook will get fun, and that’s earlier than she’s mentioned something,” Harrison boasted.
The Peter Pan pantomime is just loosely primarily based on J. M. Barrie’s well-known story of Peter Pan, Wendy and The Misplaced Boys and their adventures in By no means By no means Land. “I’ll meet up with Jennifer and we’ll work on it collectively,” mentioned Harrison, who will direct and co-author the present.
Then he’ll put the entire bundle along with actor, comic and author Julian Clary (Julian Clary: Stay – Lord of the Mince, Little Princess) who has turn out to be a mainstay of the Palladium panto, as adept at delivering a risqué line as he’s at sashaying throughout the stage in quite a lot of lavish costumes. He additionally writes nice gags.
This yr Clary will play Seaman Smee. He’ll seem swathed in creations by designer Hugh Durrant.
Different Palladium regulars embrace Gary Wilmot (Dr. Seuss’ the Grinch Musical) enjoying Henrietta Cook dinner, Captain Hook’s mom. As for Nigel Havers (Chariots of Fireplace, Penelope), his position is undetermined. “Nicely, he thinks he’s enjoying Peter Pan, however we haven’t the center to inform him that he’s not,” Harrison defined.
“He enjoys being made enjoyable of within the panto.”
Ventriloquist and comic Paul Zerdin (Paul Zerdin: All Mouth) will play Starkey, a crewman. Peter and Wendy are but to be solid.
Peter Pan can be 43-year-old Harrison’s eleventh Palladium present. ”Eight pantos, two seasons of Joseph,” he mentioned, including that The Wizard of Oz opens there for a summer season season starting June 23.
Peter Pan precedence reserving opens April 27, with normal public reserving from April 28.
Set designs are by Mark Walters and costume designs by Durrant. Choreography is by Karen Bruce, lighting designs by Ben Cracknell, sound designs by Gareth Owen and composition and orchestrations by Gary Hind.