A little foretaste of Christmas was the attraction in Bognor Regis with the launch of the town’s pantomime at the Regis Centre.
Mike Pannell was delighted to be part of the team that brought panto back to Bognor seven years ago.
And even though home is no longer this end of the country for Mike, he is delighted to be back for his fourth Bognor panto – especially as this is the one that Mike believes Bognor has been waiting for.
This year, it’s Cinderella.
And if you suggest to Mike that to many people it doesn’t really matter which panto they are watching, Mike disagrees: “Cinderella is the one that all the little girls like. They all want to be Cinderella. It’s the conventional panto. It is one of the top ones, and it has got such a lovely storyline.”
Taking the Cinders role is Leanne Robertson who is dedicating her performance to her nspirational grandfather Donald.
“He is a brilliant man,” Leanne says. “He is very funny. He has always been very supportive. I am one of two grandchildren that he has got, and he has always put a lot of time and effort into me and my sister.
“He has always encouraged us in our activities. He has always said ‘You can do it!’ He has never let me think that I was ever not good enough to do something. He is really proud of me, and I am really proud that I have made him proud!”
Meanwhile, Stuart Pattenden has got big ideas for his first outing as Prince Charming: “For me, I want to try to play him as very flamboyant and to bring the humour out. Sometimes the Prince can get a little bit lost in all the comedy and farce and all the things that are happening around him. Everyone is very farcical and very funny.”
But Stuart is determined to give the Prince his due: “I want to pull out more of his character!”
For Ricky Steadman – Buttons this Christmas – the panto is something of a homecoming.
From 2004-07, Ricky learnt his craft at Butlins in Bognor - years he looks back on with great affection.
“It is very strange being back! Bognor was my first professional job. I went there to sing and became a singer and dancer and it just happened from there. They taught me so much.
“Everything I know, I learnt there, and it was an easy place to learn. They have got some great people there. It’s about lots of rehearsals and then getting thrown in at the deep end.
Cinderella is at Bognor’s Regis Centre from Monday, December 10 to Sunday, January 6. Tickets on 01243 861010.