Some old favourites, a television soap legend and some spectacular special effects will be bringing panto fun to The Cresset in Peterborough over the forthcoming festive season.
Taking on the role of the lovable Muddles in Snow White is Kevin Kennedy, who for 20 years played Norman “Curly” Watts in Coronation Street.
More than a decade since he last appeared - and almost 35 years since his debut on the cobbles - he remains instantly recognisable as the affable binman-turned-supermarket worker.
That legacy, of course, is down to some terrific storylines - his unlikely romance with Rovers barmaid Raquel amongst the most notable - and his comical double act with supermarket lothario Reg Holdsworth.
“Even now the recognition is wherever I go, and I am humbled by the fact that people remember my work - and that has got to be the yardstick for an actor. It is a lovely thing to happen,” said Kevin following the panto launch in Central Park.
“I was very lucky. I got to play all kinds of different storylines, some very funny, and almost slapstick with Reg in Bettabuys, and got to play the romantic stuff and heartbreak with the fair Raquel, so it was a joy as an actor.
“The writers were superb, they wrote some brilliant stuff for me, so I was a lucky boy.”
Since leaving the Street Kevin has appeared in a number of West End musicals and plays and is about to start rehearsals for a stint in a stage version of Fat Friends: The Musical - before treading the boards in Peterborough, something, which he is already looking forward to.
“Panto is brilliant fun for the whole family. It is the first time a lot of children get to go into a theatre so it is important that we get it right,” he said.
“This is panto number sixover the last 13 years so I am quite well versed, but above all I love it. It is a brilliant way to spend Christmas; hard work but good fun... a challenge.”
And the role?
“Muddles is Snow White’s best friend who is madly in love with her, but she wants to be with the Handsome Prince, which is always a mistake in my eyes. Muddles is the much better part of the bargain,” he said.
“But hey ho, that’s the way it goes.”
While Kevin will be making his Cresset debut, Victoria Jane will be back for the second time after playing Wendy in Peter Pan last year - this year in the title role.
“It is lovely to be back... and I have been upgraded,” she joked. “It will be nice to play a ‘princess’ role –out of the nightie and into a pretty princess dress this year.”
“It is a wonderful story with all the elements a panto lover could possibly ask for. There’s the love interest with the handsome prince, the fabulous dame character, the danger with the huntsman and the cute little dwarfs.
“It has some lovely comedy parts, too. I think Kevin is going to be great as the comic and it will be great to play opposite him. And it is full of amazing songs which the kids will love.”
“The Cresset is a lovely panto theatre and it is an honour to be asked back.”
Playing the “fabulous dame” - Betty Bonbon - is Zach Vanderfelt, back for the seventh year.
“As a dame you sometimes get attached or the audience attach to you, I don’t think they would let me leave,” he said.
“I started in panto quite late and used to play the villain, in a self depricating kind of way, along with the audience laughing at myself, which I thought was just more interesting.
“Then one day a theatre manager told me she thought I would make a marvellous dame. She said I had a good rapport with the audience and really good timing, but for me it was the most terrifying idea at the time,” said the veteran dame. And his character?
“Betty Bonbon is all about confectionery and lots of cake which will be reflected in the frocks - nine or 10 this year!”
Snow White runs at The Cresset from December 9 to December 30. To book go to www.cresset.co.uk or call the box office on 01733 265705.