Blooming love story for the ages

FOR any youngsters making their first visit to the theatre, CBeebies star Ben Faulks says you couldn’t pick a better show than Sleeping Beauty at Woking’s New Victoria Theatre.

“The great thing about panto is it incorporates so many mediums: song, dance, comedy, tragedy, love, peril… everything,” says the man better known as singing gardener Mr Bloom on children’s TV.

“For a lot of people it might be their first time in a theatre and it throws everything at them, and it’s a lot of fun.

“The other great thing is you get a lot of audience participation from the kids, and the great thing is when they get involved even if they aren’t invited to!”

Ben adds that the very strong line-up of stars means Woking’s panto will be a winner.

“I’m the Prince so I’m the hero, but we have a really strong cast all round: everywhere from the comic and the dame to the heroine and the villain,” he says. “Everything will be very clear, even to young kids.”

The cast, of course, includes Katie Price – aka TV celebrity, model and businesswoman Jordan – in her first professional panto role.

“Katie is great,” says Ben. “She’s not known as an actor but she’s throwing everything at it and it means we’ve got a great
villain and that’s really important in panto.”

She will play the role of evil fairy Malevolence until Sunday, December 27 when the role will be taken over by former EastEnders star Anita Dobson.

“When Anita joins us I’m sure she’ll also be great,” says Ben. “She’s had the benefit of playing the role before and she’ll have her own way of doing it I’m sure.

“She’s obviously different to Katie, but the core of the show will be exactly the same – although there may be some changes in the gags to fit Anita’s character.”

The CBeebies star will be with Sleeping Beauty throughout the run, which means just one day off in several weeks – Christmas Day itself, when there is no show.

“I live in Yorkshire so I won’t have time to go home for Christmas but my family will be here in Woking – the mountain is coming the Mohammed!” laughs Ben.

“I have three children and they’re very excited about coming down, they really want to see the panto… and me obviously.”

Sleeping Beauty will be at the New Victoria Theatre, Woking, until Saturday, January 10.

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