Theatre’s panto bubbling with fun

TWO of Britain’s best-loved soap-stars are heading the cast of this year’s Norwich Theatre Royal pantomime has opened and runs until January 16.

Stephen Uppal (Ravi Roy in Hollyoaks) and Joel Beckett (Jake Moon in EastEnders) star in Jack and the Beanstalk.

Stephen will be aiming to stop the nasty panto villain, played by Joel Beckett. Joel also starred in hit comedy The Office as Lee, the boyfriend of long-suffering receptionist Dawn, as well as appearing in a number of other hit small-screen shows including Casualty, Holby City, The Bill, and Doctors.

Joel said he relished his latest villainous role. He said: “The role of the pantomime baddie is something that everyone wants to take on.

“I am very much looking forward to getting booed a lot – the more boos the better. It is my second pantomime and I am a local boy now that I have moved here so roll on Christmas!”

Richard Gauntlett is also back writing, directing and donning all manner of outrageous outfits as Dame Trott in the show.

This year’s pantomime will mark his tenth year as part of the show – and his ninth year as writer and director. He said: “I love coming here. It is like a big family.”

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Renowned as one of Britain’s best-known panto dames, he is an authority on panto, penning shows for other venues as well as writing, directing and starring in the Norwich production.

Popular comic actress Ann Bryson will bring a touch of magic to the show as the fairy.

Jack and the Beanstalk also sees the return of comic Andre Vincent, who proved a huge hit with audiences at last year’s show and will be teaming up once again with Richard Gauntlett in a double act which started when they were successful buskers on the cobbles of Covent Garden 25 years ago.

John Bultitude, of Norwich Theatre Royal, said: “Jack and the Beanstalk promises to be something really special. As ever, Richard Gauntlett has given the traditional story a real twist. Without giving too much away, watch out for some circus thrills and spills.

“If you haven’t got your tickets yet, book now as we are expecting a heavy demand for tickets at the box office.”

Tickets are �5 to �19, under-threes free. There are signed performances on Saturday, January 15 at 2.30pm and 7.30pm and an audio described performance on Sunday, January 9 at 1pm.

Call the box office on 01603 630000 or visit