EasteEnder Ricky’s back in Peterborough as Buttons, and Ugly Sisters pack a punch

The Cresset Panto launch- Cinderella.'Photos by Chris Brudenell.
The Cresset Panto launch- Cinderella.'Photos by Chris Brudenell.

It will soon be time to grab your glass slippers and put on your ballgowns as the Cresset invites you to their new pantomime Cinderella!

The magical panto, launched last week, will run from December 7 to 30 and features a star-studded cast including some Cresset fan favourites.

The Cresset Panto launch- Cinderella.'Photos by Chris Brudenell.

The Cresset Panto launch- Cinderella.'Photos by Chris Brudenell.

EastEnders’ favourite Ricky Groves, who played hapless mechanic Gary Hobbs, will be making an appearance as Buttons!

Making her pantomime debut, the talented Lily Shires will be the dazzling Cinderella, and her Prince Charming will be Mitch Hewer known for his appearance in Skins, Casualty and previous pantos at the Cresset.

For Ricky, it’s the first time he’s been in Cinderella, although he’s played characters in Dick Whittington and Beauty and the Beast in previous pantos at The Cresset.

But who is Buttons? Ricky explains: “With the panto world they’ve always put me as a baddie and Buttons is a sympathy vote. A link character between the story. He’s the footman for the household and he loves Cinderella but she has aspirations for the prince. Buttons is a bit sad really, he’s like Downton Abbey’s downtrodden.”

The Cresset Panto launch- Cinderella.'Photos by Chris Brudenell.

The Cresset Panto launch- Cinderella.'Photos by Chris Brudenell.

As a panto-favourite Ricky has been involved with many of the cast before and he describes them affectionately as ‘like family’.

“When I got the phone call I asked ‘Is it the usual lads?’

“It’s the same people, so none of us change and that makes a big difference as we all know each other. It’s like a family, it really is. The main thing is you’re trying to put smiles on faces and it’s a bit of fun.”

Pantogoers can expect in jokes and a few musical numbers, not far from Ricky’s Strictly Come Dancing days. Though Ricky made it to week 10, he doesn’t dance as much now.

The Cresset Panto launch- Cinderella.'Photos by Chris Brudenell.

The Cresset Panto launch- Cinderella.'Photos by Chris Brudenell.

“It was another nice little memory in my life which was good fun,” he says.

He also remembers his time in EastEnders fondly.

“I miss it, yeah, it was a long time for me. Nine years, 800-odd episodes. Funny enough I’m meeting with some of the cast for a charity cricket match, and we’ll say look how old we’ve all got.”

Fairytale romantics, Lily and Mitch, who play Cinderella and Prince Charming both can’t wait to wow audiences. Lily says: “It’s one of the nice festive traditions everyone has, and it’s nice to be a part of it from the other side.”

The Cresset Panto launch- Cinderella.'Photos by Chris Brudenell.

The Cresset Panto launch- Cinderella.'Photos by Chris Brudenell.

Lily has Mitch to guide her, as it’s his fourth appearance at the Cresset in panto season.

He said: “I actually called up this time and I said I really want to come back and do it for Christmas, it’s so much fun. It’s really different to other acting job. People look at panto and maybe judge it but it’s hard in its own way.”

Capturing the beauty of the ugly stepsisters are Cresset’s regular dame, Zach Vanderfelt and Lawrence Stubbings, better known for his appearances as a baddy.

The terrible two are sure to be a hit, as they wind the audience up together.

Zach says: “It’s a change this year to be being an ugly sister instead of a dame, it’s a big difference. You have to put a lot more slap on!

“We’ve known each other a long time, but he’s never done it before. So it’ll be funny to watch. It’s a good thing to be with someone you trust so well. I’m really looking forward to it, it’s lovely to be with this cast again.”

Tickets are priced from £9 with group discounts available. You can book through the box office on 01733 265705 or online at www.cresset.co.uk