You’ll be Hook-ed!

Bath Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - Nancy Con­nolly Print writer @Nan­cyn­con­nolly | 01225 322273 nancy.con­nolly@reach­plc.com

The stars of Peter Pan, this year’s Christ­mas panto at the The­atre Royal, took time out from re­hearsals to tell us all about it

It is that time of year again, oh yes it is, when we start think­ing about the Christ­mas panto at the The­atre Royal. The dust has just set­tled on the ghouls of Hal­loween and the em­bers from bon­fire night and fire­works are still smoul­der­ing but al­ready we are get­ting ready for Christ­mas and in Bath that means it must be time to book tick­ets for the an­nual pan­tomime. This year it is the chil­dren’s favourite Peter Pan star­ring vet­eran ac­tor Paul Ni­cholas and our very own dearly loved comic Jon Monie, as well as Ca­su­alty’s Re­becca Wheat­ley and mu­si­cal tal­ent Tim Ed­wards. Stars of the cast gath­ered in the grounds of Bail­brook House Ho­tel in Bath for the launch of this year’s panto and it was a very colour­ful af­fair. Swash­buck­ling pi­rates with long curly wigs, swords and other weapons frol­icked on the grass in mock bat­tle for what looks set to be a real fun pan­tomime for 2018. Be­tween bat­tles Paul Ni­cholas, well known for his vin­tage TV role in Just Good Friends in the ‘70’s and more re­cently in the re­al­ity tele­vi­sion series The Real Marigold Ho­tel, is play­ing Cap­tain Hook. He was in fine form at the launch and is buzzing about com­ing to Bath for the long-run­ning panto. He said: “Bath is a won­der­ful city, ev­ery ac­tor wants to come here, it is a beau­ti­ful town and the The­atre Royal is a very spe­cial place. “I played here for Quar­tet this year and the au­di­ences were ab­so­lutely bril­liant, I am re­ally look­ing for­ward to com­ing back and spend­ing some real qual­ity time here in the city,” he said. As well as his many TV per­for­mances over the years, the ac­tor who will be 74 in De­cem­ber, is a highly ex­pe­ri­enced stage and mu­si­cal per­former hav­ing starred in many award-win­ning pro­duc­tions in the West End and else­where, and he will bring a wide range of ex­pe­ri­ence to the stage of the The­atre Royal. He said: “I have never played in Bath at Christ­mas time, it must be purely mag­i­cal, I feel very lucky. “I like play­ing Cap­tain Hook, he is not too sin­is­ter or dark for a bad­die so I think the chil­dren will re­ally warm to him, I hope so any­way,” he said. Re­becca Wheat­ley, best known for her role in the BBC drama Ca­su­alty, will star as Mrs Dar­ling and she was also in Bath for the launch. She said: “Peter Pan is a great panto, it is a proper good story with a real plot and lots and lots of ac­tion. “I have to play the part of Mrs Dar­ling and also a mer­maid so it

will be a lot of fun with lots of cos­tume changes,” she said. Also known for her ap­pear­ances in Loose Women and Holby City, Re­becca has sung and ap­peared in West End pro­duc­tions in­clud­ing Fame and Bad Girls: The Mu­si­cal. She is also ex­cited about com­ing to Bath. She said: “I know Bath very well as I spent a lot of time here as a child as my mother lived near Wells. “I also lived in Bris­tol while film­ing Ca­su­alty so I have very fond mem­o­ries of the West Coun­try, I just love this part of the world, com­ing back is re­ally lovely. “I am look­ing for­ward to spend­ing time in the city and my fam­ily will be vis­it­ing and com­ing to the show so we will go for nice meals in some of the great restau­rants. “Panto is re­ally great fun and Peter Pan is one of the best so I am re­ally look­ing for­ward to it,” she said. Bath’s own Jon Monie is re­turn­ing as Smee, Cap­tain Hook’s right hand man and dur­ing the run he will be mak­ing his 1,000th ap­pear­ance in the The­atre Royal Bath panto. He said: “I started in 1996, I wrote to the the­atre to ask them if I could take part in the panto and that was it, the rest is his­tory, it is now part of my Christ­mas and a very im­por­tant part. I just love it, this will be my 13th con­sec­u­tive year in the The­atre Royal panto and it just gets bet­ter and bet­ter. “There is some­thing re­ally spe­cial about the The­atre Royal and it is a real priv­i­lege to be tak­ing part,” he said. Jon is one of Bath’s favourite home spun comics, he works on the panto script as well as giv­ing a hi­lar­i­ous per­for­mance ev­ery year. He said: “As I am a real lo­cal I get asked to add a few lo­cal jokes, au­di­ences like that. “Peter Pan is a great story and it is a re­ally strong cast this year, I am re­ally look­ing for­ward to work­ing with them, it is a very spe­cial time of the year for me. “It’s busy, it’s hard work but it is just the best fun and I love it,” said Jon who started his stage ca­reer as a school­boy in a King Ed­ward’s School per­for­mance of Arthur Miller’s Death of a Sales­man. The role of Peter Pan will be played by mu­si­cal the­atre tal­ent Tim Ed­wards, whose cred­its in­clude The Book of Mor­mon in the West End and the UK tour of Wicked. Rachel Grundy who plays Tin­ker Bell has re­cently per­formed in the UK tour of Legally Blonde The Mu­si­cal, The Rocky Hor­ror Show on tour and in the West End. All cast mem­bers who spoke to the Bath Chron­i­cle seemed gen­uinely ex­cited about spend­ing most of their Christ­mas in Bath. “Bath is one of the good ones,” said Paul. “There are places you re­ally don’t want to spend a lot of time in but ev­ery­one loves com­ing to Bath.” As usual mem­bers of the leg­endary Dorothy Cole­born School of Dance will also be per­form­ing at this year’s panto. Peter Pan will be at the The­atre Royal, Bath from Thurs­day, De­cem­ber 13, to Sun­day, Jan­uary 19, with two per­for­mances each day. For tick­ets visit the­atreroyal.org. uk or call 01225 448844.

Pic­tures: Paul Gillis From left, Tinker­bell (Rachel Grundy); Smee (Jon Monie); Cap­tain Hook (Paul Ni­cholas); Mrs Dar­ling (Re­becca Wheat­ley) and Peter Pan (Tim Ed­wards)

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