Much loved local entertainer Jonathan Wilkes is greeted by rapturous applause and a welcome as warm as they get at the press launch for this year’s Regent pantomime Cinderella.
Not only a welcome, but a welcome back – for Wilkes has been away from the Regent pantomime for a year after a record breaking panto run in the Stoke-on-Trent theatre from 2005 to 2010.
Jonathan says he is “raring to go” and goes on to tell us he met Robbie Williams’ newborn baby – Theodora Rose the day before. "It's brilliant to be back” he enthuses. And what better way to return than with perhaps the most classic panto of all: “Cinderella is the best pantomime and we've got an incredible cast."
So who’s in this cast which Wilkes speaks so highly of? Script writer Eric Potts introduces them in turn. The Fairy Godmother is first up, to be played by opera singer Carrie-Ann Williams; the winner of recent contest Stoke’s Top Talent.
The suitably gracious and amiable Jonathan Bremner will be stepping into the role of Prince Charming and he ensures me that we’re to expect a cool, streetwise prince vying for Cinderella’s affections.
It is Rebecca Lisewski playing the lovely Cinders this year and she’s enjoying the family type bond between the cast.
“We all get on. Everyone is just so lovely and hilarious - it's going to be quite hard for me because I've got to keep a straight face!" she laughs. She’s certain to struggle keeping that poker face when on stage with Christian Patterson, who also returns this year as one of the ugly sisters alongside Torchwood's Kai Owen.
He has been filming with ITV for new period drama Mr Selfridge of late, but as with Jonathan Wilkes, he is thrilled to be back in Stoke. Christian is not only starring in the panto, but he is also co-directing it with Jonathan Wilkes, who promises us lots of surprises to look forward to: "It's going to be the best show ever and I've got an amazing cast and trust me, you'll walk away with a big smile on your face.” Oh yes we will.
Watch the video below for interviews with and performances from the cast members and look out for a full length feature in the November issue of Staffordshire Life, out October 16th.