Groundlings panto stars dazzle hospice with sneak preview of Jack and the Beanstalk

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FESTIVE fun was in the air as panto stars dazzled patients at a hospice.

Patients at Rowans Hospice in Waterlooville were given a sneak preview of Groundlings Theatre’s Christmas pantomime Jack and the Beanstalk, launching on December 4.

From left, Travis Booth-Millard, Russell Meyers, Fleur de Wit,Tony Howes, and Amelia Greco'Picture: Malcolm Wells (281119-0131)

From left, Travis Booth-Millard, Russell Meyers, Fleur de Wit,Tony Howes, and Amelia Greco'Picture: Malcolm Wells (281119-0131)

There was fun, thrills and laughter all round as the panto actors wowed their audience at the Living Well Centre. This was despite only teaming up together last Friday to prepare for daily shows at the theatre running through to January 5.

Richard Stride, director of Groundlings Theatre, said: ‘The people loved it. It’s been nice to come here, especially for those living here who wouldn’t be able to make it to the theatre, so it’s been great to bring it to them.

‘We’ve only had three days preparation but I’m really proud of how quickly they have got to grips with the dance routines, songs and learning the words. I’m glad everyone at Rowans enjoyed the show.’

The actors admitted they were thrilled to perform to such a special audience. Amelia Greco, who plays Gill, said: ‘It’s very rewarding and nice to give back. Everyone had a good time and were really getting into the spirit of it.’

Groundlings Theatre group took a 'taster' of their Christmas fun-filled pantomime 'Jack and the Beanstalk' to The Rowans Living Well Centre at  Purbrook, Hampshire'Picture: Malcolm Wells (281119-0069)

Groundlings Theatre group took a 'taster' of their Christmas fun-filled pantomime 'Jack and the Beanstalk' to The Rowans Living Well Centre at Purbrook, Hampshire'Picture: Malcolm Wells (281119-0069)

Travis Booth-Millard, who plays Jack, said: ‘My nan was at Rowans a few years ago so it’s been good to come here and do something for the hospice. They looked after my nan very well. The people here are lovely.’

Meanwhile, Russell Meyers, who plays ‘baddie’ Pen Dragon, revealed he was blown away by the levels of interaction from the audience. ‘It’s so much better for us actors to have the crowd involved – booing and hissing. Those from the hospice really got involved, which was great for us,’ he said.

Joker in the pack Tony Howes, playing Dame Tilley Twerp, brought hysterics to the panto with his repertoire of gags. ‘It’s was enjoyable to put smiles on people’s faces,’ he said. ‘My father had motor neurone disease so I understand what people and the families are going through.’

Kay McConville, deputy manager of the Rowans’ Living Well Centre, said they were grateful for the panto coming to them. ‘The visit from Groundlings Theatre has been a great way to kick start the festive feeling for all of the staff, volunteers and visitors,’ she said. 

From left, Russell Meyers, Fleur de Wit, Tony Howes, Amelia Greco and Travis Booth-Millard'(seated left to right) Carole Vassallo, Graham Broadbent and David Tull'Picture: Malcolm Wells (281119-0108)

From left, Russell Meyers, Fleur de Wit, Tony Howes, Amelia Greco and Travis Booth-Millard'(seated left to right) Carole Vassallo, Graham Broadbent and David Tull'Picture: Malcolm Wells (281119-0108)

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‘Many of the visitors to the centre have been diagnosed with life-limiting illnesses or are caring for a family member with a terminal diagnosis. Many of them will not get the chance to go to see a panto this year so it is brilliant that Groundlings has brought the panto to them.

‘We would like to say a massive thank you to Richard and the performers in Jack and the Beanstalk for taking the time out from their rehearsals to visit us and for arranging to do a bucket collection to raise money for the hospice.’