Returning cast at the Albert Road, Southsea venue include Jack Edwards as Dame Trott, Sean Smith of X Factor finalists Same Difference as Jack Trott, James Percy as Silly Billy, Julia Worsley as the villain of the piece – Von
Badapple, Marlene Little Hill as the fairy and Peter McCrohon as King Eric.
And they are joined by Love Island star Amy Hart, who is making her professional stage debut as Princess Jill.
Jack, who is also the theatre’s artistic director, said: ‘In a normal year we can get 40-50,000 people through the doors for panto, so we're really encouraging people to come back and have some fun this Christmas, because I think we all need it.
‘There's a lot of people in Portsmouth who want to come, but we've got to make sure they feel comfortable and safe. And we will do that!’
The 2020 panto Dick Whittington had its run cut short after two weeks when the country was put into Tier 3, closing all venues.
Even before last year’s panto came to an abrupt end, the cast were already restricted in their interactions with each other and the audience – usually a key part of any panto.
But Jack pledges this year will be a return to ‘normal’: ‘That was the hardest thing for James Percy, the comic, and myself because we interact so much with the audience. You want to say: “Come on everyone, give us a cheer!” And we weren't allowed to do that. It was a nightmare.
‘I know James will be doing everything possible he can to get a reaction this year.’
Sean added: ‘We felt like we had a really good panto last year and there was a real team spirit, but when the government did that...
‘All power to The Kings because they already said, no matter what, we want to do things properly with this cast, and had invited us back. They felt we deserved a full audience to show off what we can do to as many people as possible.
‘It will give these actors a chance to do what they do best this year, and really let go and get all of the audience involved.
‘It's going to be a whole new level of fun.’
As the new girl on the block, Amy said: ‘Everyone’s been so welcoming and supportive. They've really included me as part of the family.
‘I did panto when I was a kid at the Pier Pavilion in Worthing – with Timmy Mallett – and I've done am-dram, but this is my first professional production as an adult.
‘It’s going to be so exciting.’
An attempt to revive Dick Whittington in the summer when restrictions eased was abandoned over planning concerns.
Jack and The Beanstalk runs at The Kings Theatre from November 27 to January 2, 2022. Adult tickets from £18-30. Go to kingsportsmouth.co.uk.
A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron
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