At the Alban Arena, St. Albans, starring as the giants henchmen.
Dates and Prices
12th December 2008 to 4th January 2009
£7.50 to £19.50
|Giants Henchmen||Cannon and Ball|
|Dame Trot||Barry Hester|
|Princess Apricot||Katie Beard|
|Fairy Courgette||Karen Jeffs|
|Giant Blunderbore||Adam Salter|
|The Ensemble||Laurence Blight
|The Trott Family||Marguerita Hoare School of Dancing|
Cannon and Ball
The Giants Henchmen
Tommy Cannon and Bobby Ball are one of Britain’s funniest and most successful double acts. In their long career they have achieved a string of honours that puts them among the all-time greats of show business.
On television they have starred in their own series practically every year since 1979. They have also guested on all the major shows including Wogan, Parkinson, Des O’Connor, Sunday Night at the Palladium and several Royal Variety Shows. They featured in a BBC Documentary Funny Business based on double acts, which also included footage of comedy legends Martin and Lewis, Laurel and Hardy and Morecambe and Wise.
To add to their pedigree, they remain the only act to have won three separate National Club Awards and be named as the Variety Club Personalities of the Year. Their feature film The Boys in Blue in addition to its cinema success, went on to become a video best seller. The boys have also been the subject of This is Your Life!
During the 1970’s they built a strong reputation around the UK cabaret club circuit for being a great live act. They also toured extensively in the hotel circuits of Australia and South Africa.
Tom and Bob have broken records in theatres all over the UK, including London. In 1981 they played a six-week season at the Dominion Theatre. Every seat was sold before the show opened, and in 1988 their pantomime Babes in the Wood broke all previous pantomime records at the world famous London Palladium, where Cannon and Ball created the record for the largest box office amount taken in one week in British theatre history.
Rock with Laughter 96 fulfilled Tommy and Bobby’s ambition to star in their own Rock ‘n’ Roll spectacular, their first summer season for producers Qdos.
After an extensive autumn tour and a trip to Israel, the boys played The Chinese Policemen in Aladdin at the Theatre Royal, Newcastle and again at The Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton.
They have appeared on many major TV shows including The Des O’Connor Show, Noel Edmonds’ House Party, Talking Telephone Numbers and The Generation Game.
In the spring of 1999 the boys appeared at various theatres across the country starring in An Evening at the Music Hall whilst continuing their tour of An Audience With.
The boys played full houses at their Summer Season in 1999 at the Blackpool Grand Theatre, the season was the one of the most successful summers Blackpool has ever had!
The 1999/2000 pantomime season saw the boys play the Regent Theatre, Stoke on Trent for the production Cinderella co-starring Melinda Messenger and Britt Ekland.
The early part of 2000 saw the boys starring and touring in various shows throughout the UK’s theatres. Summer season 2000 features the successful Comedy Bonanza Show (which broke box office records) at the Blackpool Grand Theatre and The Princess Theatre, Torquay for 10 weeks from the 23rd July and later included Sunday’s at The Pavilion Theatre, Bournemouth. Pantomime 2000/2001 saw the boys star at The Alhambra Theatre, Bradford.
2001/02 Pantomime season saw them starring in Aladdin with Tricia Penrose at The Theatre Royal, Nottingham.
Tommy and Bobby appeared in The Comedy Bonanza, Blackpool Grand Theatre throughout the summer of 2002 and went on to star in Dick Whittington as Captain and Captain’s Mate at The New Theatre Cardiff. This was followed with them starring in summer season at the Britannia Pier, Great Yarmouth and Weymouth Pavilion Theatre.
The box office hit a new record breaking high at The Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton with Peter Pan for one of the longest running seasons in the UK 2003/2004. The boys played Starkey and Smee, two bumbling pirates, much to the annoyance of the evil Captain Hook.
Tommy and Bobby returned to our television screens early in 2004 with the BBCl series Revolver, a comedy sketch show that brought together a whole host of talent that we all know and love, such as John Inman, Leslie Phillips and Honor Blackman.
In the summer of 2004 the boys teamed up with The Grumbleweeds as they performed at The Blackpool Grand Theatre with the hugely popular Comedy Bonanza-, they also appeared at The Britannia Pier Great Yarmouth, Futurist Theatre Scarborough and The Embassy Skegness.
They went on to feature in an episode of the new series of Last Of The Summer Wine which was transmitted in March 2005.
The boys starred in Peter Pan at the Civic Theatre, Darlington in the 2004/05 panto season playing Smee and Yoo. During the summer of 2005 Bobby filmed an episode of Heartbeat playing the role of Mr Turner
Again 2005 they starred at the Blackpool Grand for the summer season in the comedy show Legends of Comedy, also taking the show to Great Yarmouth, Scarborough and Skegness. The show at Blackpool was also filmed by The Rights Company for release on DVD.
After proving massively popular, both were also asked back to film another episode of Last of The Summer Wine in August 2005.
Tommy and Bobby were then invited to experience life in the jungle on I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here for ITV1. Both were thrilled to take part in such a unique television show and once again proved their popularity with the audience.
Panto beckoned for the 2005/06 season in Hull with the production of Dick Whittington where the boys played Captain and Captains Mate and broke all box office records since they were last there 16 years ago. Bobby returned to Heartbeat in March 2006 to revive his role as Mr Turner.
In the summer of 2006 they were thrilled to be appearing at The Blackpool Opera House with their show Back From The Jungle with special guest stars, The Grumbleweeds. They also took the show to The Britannia Pier Theatre, Great Yarmouth, the Embassy Skegness and the Futurist Theatre, Scarborough.
Throughout 2007 they toured the length and breadth of the country with over 40 dates with their comedy show, as well as returning to The Blackpool Opera House starring in Comedy Bonanza. They also made a return to Last Of The Summer Wine!
This year Tommy & Bobby were touring in the comedy play Big Bad Mouse. Once finished they embarked on another tour – The Best of British Variety, which received outstanding reviews!
Even after years of making people laugh, Tommy and Bobby are still enjoying every minute and are looking forward to coming to St Albans this Christmas!
Ricky began his training at the tender age of 6 at the Constance Grant School of Dance. Progressing to pass at high level in tap, ballet modern jazz and ballroom. From this he was involved in many professional theatre productions including Oliver (Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield) Great Expectations (starring Darren Day, Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield) …plus many more.
After enjoying his time on stage, Ricky had the pleasure of being co-presenter with BBC’s Phillapa Forester where he guided her and the crew around the city of Sheffield. Ricky then decided to take a different direction and go for variety by becoming a Butlins red coat as lead vocalist and dancer. Here he performed many choreographed shows and sang West End hits such as Miss Saigon and Grease.
Ricky was then spotted and hired to become lead vocalist and assistant choreographer, to a London based company performing in Halkidiki, Greece. Here Ricky spent 6 months creating, and performing West End shows such as Saturday Night Fever, Five Guys Named Mo and Cats.
On returning to the UK Ricky had gained enough experience to begin a career in cabaret, a one man show! To include a variety of song, dance and humour. This became very quickly a hit and in the first year won himself, The Blackpool Command Award. This then catapulted Ricky as an all round entertainer.
To date Ricky has once again performedhis shows In theatre, top UK and foreign hotels, corporate companies, cruise ships Thomson Gold and Platinum and the casinos.
Ricky is excited and looking forward to be working with the cast of Jack and the Beanstalk, and joining the company of Qdos for this year’s pantomime, Ricky would like to thank all his friends and family for their continued support.
Barry is pleased to be back at St Albans for pantomime this year, having previously been here in 2004. He is also delighted to be” working with Cannon & Ball and the rest of the cast.
Barry knows that if you’re reading up on him then, either you got in early to the theatre and have nothing else to do, or that the show isn’t entertaining you and you’re blaming him for it. So here are two different paragraphs for each of the above.
Nothing else to do:
Barry was born in London, but now lives in Chelmsford, and has been performing in musicals and plays since the age of 12. Barry has been playing Dame in pantomime since 2001 and has enjoyed every role he
has undertaken as well as having the pleasure of working with a number of well known celebrities and those who think they are!!
Barry has been living most of his life out of a suitcase. You probably think this means he travels a lot. No, it means he has just never lived in a suitcase before!! Barry also has a dog. He went to the pet shop the other day and said I don’t know whether to give my dog a tin of chum or a bone! The owner said what’s his name? Barry said Knick Knack Paddy Whack!!
That’s panto! Have fun!
Blaming him for the show:
It’s not my fault. I didn’t write it, I didn’t direct it and I didn’t choreograph it either. Blame them!!
Barry hopes you all enjoy the show and that you have a great Christmas and a fantastic New Year!
Katie trained at The National Youth Theatre and The Guildford School of Acting, graduating 2004 with the Acting Prize.
Her theatre credits include Better Watch Out (The Hampstead Theatre), A Right Royal Farce (The Kings Head Theatre), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (The Young Vic), Cowboys (The Royal Court YWF), Fish (Camden People’s Theatre) and most recently Anything Goes (The Cambridge Arts Theatre)
Television/Film credits include Jacks (Edinburjhr and London Film Festivals), The Den, Shoot the Writers and various commercials including the Kinder Bueno series.
Katie can also be heard on radio in Cowboys and Stepping Stones.
Karen graduated from University in London with BA Hons and immediately went overseas performing within the cruise industry and in venues across the world. Most recently she has come back to the UK as a performer and choreographer. UK national tour credits include:- Memories Westend to Broadway, After Dark, Rock Your Soul to Broadway, Cinderella in Cinderella, Fairy Bow Bells in Dick Whittiugton, and in the High School Musical tribute show Class of 08. Karen is thrilled to be playing the fairy this festive season in St Albans and would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas.
Adam trained professionally at Laine Theatre Arts.
After his graduation, Adam played Matt, and understudy to Ephraim in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (UK Tour), until its transfer to London where he made his West End debut at the Haymarket Theatre, London.
Other theatre credits include: featured ensemble/acrobat understudy to William in On Eagles Wing (Belfast, Dublin and Derry), original London cast of Lord of The Rings (Theatre Royal Drury Lane, West End), Dance Captain for Kiss of the Spider Woman (Emery Theatre, London),
the workshop production of The Ghost and Mrs Muir (Arts Educational, Chiswick), West End Laine (Aldwych Theatre, London), 50 Years of Stage and Screen and Musical Memories of Stage and Screen (Both at the Palace Theatre, London) and West End & Hollywood Favourites (The Queens Theatre, London).
Adam has played acrobat/pirate in ‘the pantomime Peter Pan for UK Productions for the past 4 years in various theatres around the country.
For more information on Adam, please visit: www.access-uk.com
Marguerita Hoare School of Dancing
This is the 9th year running that the school has provided the juveniles for the Alban Arena Pantomime and we wish everyone a Very Happy Christmas. Teaching dance in St. Albans since 1939, the school covers all aspects of stage dance training and festival work, including the All England Dance Competition. Over the past 69 years many of our students have progressed to the Royal Ballet and other companies and have appeared in musicals, on stage and on television. We like to think we have given them a good start towards their chosen careers.
Jon Conway has written and directed more than one hundred pantos and together with his producing partner, Nick Thomas, their Qdos company has presented over four hundred pantomimes.
As a performer Jon played the comic in many pantos including the famous long running City
Varieties Theatre in Leeds. Retiring as a performer in his mid twenties, he began in business with Nick Thomas and together they have created their production company Qdos Entertainment into the major force of light entertainment. The first panto he wrote was Robinson Crusoe in Outer Space a galactic adventure in 1982, followed by Goldilocks for Frankie Howerd in 1983. Since then, Jon has written for virtually every top panto star in the country and a few unusual ones, including Mr Sulu from Star Trek and Frank Bruno.
He created two new adaptations of Snow White and Peter Pan in the early nineties, which have now been seen by nearly four million people. Indeed, Jon’s adaptation of J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan has been so successful, he was honoured to have been asked by Great Ormond Street Hospital for it to be the new version performed by schools and drama groups. Jon’s latest panto invention is the amazing 3D effects seen in many shows across the country this year.
Jon has created many other shows such as Boogie Nights, Happy Days, the theatre version of the American TV cult, which he created with Henry Winkler, the Fonz himself, Simply Ballroom which has been seen in the West End’s Drury Lane, South Africa, Dubai, and Las Vegas! His latest musical is the new hit show All The Fun Of The Fair featuring the music of and starring David Essex.
Always busy as a producer, writer and director, Jon has written comedy material for many top comedy performers. His new panto-writing partner is his son Jordan, who at ten years of age has some great material and fresh ideas from the perspective of a youngster.
Russell cut his teeth in pantomime, shortly after decimalisation, in St Albans when he gave his ugly sister to Cheryl Baker’s Cinderella and Adam Woodyat’s Buttons. What ever happened to them?
He is delighted to return for his third year in a row as Director. Other work includes as director and writer: New Boy (New York, London, Edinburgh, UK Tour and West End revival next year), the original stage musical adaptation of Whistle Down the Wind (Sadler’s Wells, West Yorkshire Playhouse, UK Tour, Barclays TMA award for Best New Musical), The Go-Between (WYP).
As director: Discotivity with Michelle McManus, (Edinburgh), Days of Hope with David Birt and Siobhan McCarthy (Kings Head) Minor Irritations, Hardcore (Pleasance Theatres, Edinburgh & London) Bugsy Malone (Queens Theatre, West End) The Dreaming and The Kissing Dance both by Charles Hart and Howard Goodali (Royal Opera House, Lyric Hammersmith and UK Tours) Once Upon a War.-(Edinburgh International Festival), Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Drake, Tin Pan Ati for the National Youth Music Theatre.
As resident director: Sunset Boulevard (Really Useful Group) Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (London Palladium)
Let’s Make an Opera, (Sadler’s Wells).
Russell is a visiting director at Guildford School of Acting. He also directs the Whatsonstage.com Awards annually in the West End.
On Television: presenter, Spotlight for the BBC, Collector’s Lot for Channel 4 and Inside Out (BBC).
On Film: script editing for Milk which starred Sean Penn.
David’s stage & theatre credits include: new musical West End Rocks UK Tour, The Christ Of Coldharbour Lane Soho Theatre, London, High School Musical South Holland Theatre, Spalding, Manumission Privilege/Amnesia-Ibiza, Peter Pan Churchill Theatre, Bromley, Cinderella Alban Arena, St Albans, Back To The 80’s Kenneth More Theatre, Ilford, Cinderella New Victoria Theatre, Woking. David’s video credits include: Kaiser Chiefs Never Miss A Beat, Scouting For Girls I Wish I Was James Bond, Sam Sparro Black & Gold, Sonny J Handsfree & Can’t Stop Moping, Freemasons Touch Me & Rain Down Love, Annie Girlfriend, Alex Gaudino Destination Calabria, Booty Luv Shine, Right Said Fred I’m TOO Sexy 2007!, Martijn Ten Velden / Wish I Would, Alibi Vs Rockefeller Sexual Healing. David’s commercial credits include: Ford Fiesta Zeitgeist’-Worldwide, Sunsilk Dancing-South America. He has continued his work with L’Oreal, HOB Salons, Matrix & Errol Douglas at Salon International and Alternative Hair Show at The Royal Albert Hall each year.
David was asked to create a piece based on the painting The Death Of Actaeon performed in the main room at The National Gallery.
David has given workshops & lectures for IDTA, BBO, RAM, HDT and adjudicated this year for International Street Dance competition’s 6c Janet Cram Awards for I.S.T.D. Specializing in Pas De Deux & boys workshops he teaches as a guest choreographer at various colleges throughout the year and holds master classes within the UK &C Europe.
David is director & partner of BPM Productions, London’s leading dance agency, which he opened in 2000.
David has danced on many TV’s, Trade/Fashion shows and with many international pop artists such as Diana Ross, Robbie Williams, Girls Aloud, Blue, Billie Piper, Atomic Kitten. At the age of 21 David was assistant choreographer to Arlene Phillips, who sent him to New York to hold auditions for Saturday Night Fever – The Musical on Broadway & around Europe
Kevin J Roache
Originating from Liverpool Kevin commenced his professional career at the Neptune Theatre, moving later to the Empire Theatre. At the age of nineteen he became one of the youngest Chief Electricians in the UK.
Whilst at Liverpool he was involved in lighting for top rock bands, major opera and ballet companies, along with a string of lighting achievements to his credit including several scenes for the movie Chariots Of Fire!
He was Technical Manager at the Derngate Theatre Northampton for several years. He is now committed fulltime to his production company, Stage Right Productions. Based in Northampton, the company is involved in producing many corporate conferences, product launches, fashion shows and providing the full production service for many outdoor festivals including the booking of artists such as Ronan Keating , Lemar and Rachel Stevens and continuing to light a broad range of theatrical shows.
This year has seen Kevin working in Europe and Dubai working on numerous events including the Dubai Film Festival.
He has just finished two weeks in Trafalgar Square with the world renowned artist Rafael Lozano Hemmer with his Underscan project, the world’s largest video art.
From The Stage newspaper:
Having a duo boasting 44 years together in showbusiness fronting any show, let alone a pantomime, can only help pull in the punters when other productions must have struggled getting full houses over the credit crunch Christmas. To a fair few in the audience, the names Cannon and Ball – playing the Giant’s henchmen – would have maybe meant little before taking their seats, but come the end, the old (one lady celebrating her 83rd birthday included), middle-aged and young would all have surely come away won over by their infectious enthusiasm, polished audience interaction skills and sublime silliness.
While they easily steal the show, around them there’s other fine performances from, for example, Barry Hester, excellent throughout as Dame Trot.
If there’s a criticism, an animated Mr Bean character seems superfluous, most kids being a bit nonplussed by the non-talking figure. Giant Blunderbore (Adam Salter) is a fantastic, huge creation which blunders around on stage, before being pelted by foam cubes supplied to a gleeful audience.
The solid performances from the energetic Ricky K (Jack) and bubbly Karen Jeffs (Fairy Courgette) are also integral to this show’s success, as are fun, well-executed song and dance numbers.
It’s Cannon and Ball you remember, though, as you come away from the Alban Arena – more than four decades together in the business and still, in my book, quite brilliant on stage.
From the St Albans Review:
Rock on Tommy! This is a pantomime that has everything – lots of laughs, great costumes and sets, imaginative choreography and, thank goodness, lots of politically incorrect goings on.
This year’s offering – Jack and the Beanstalk at the St Albans venue stars Cannon and Ball, the seasoned comedy twosome who know a thing or two about keeping an audience entertained, and it shone through with a packed audience on Tuesday evening.
Playing the giant’s henchmen, we booed Tommy (the taller one) and sympathised with Bobby, who no longer wanted to be bad. They are masters of audience participation and we howled with laughter as they told children in the audience to “sit up straight” or “shut up” and mercilessly baited some of the unsuspecting women in the front rows. All in good fun, though. While the show was fast-paced and well directed by Russell Labey, for me, it was disappointing when Cannon and Ball left the stage. Mr Bean came to visit, but I am still not entirely sure why. Perhaps it’s all in the name? But other high points of the night included an outstanding routine to Michael Jackson’s Thriller by the ensemble of four dancers, the well-designed set of the giant’s lair and, indeed, Giant Blunderbore himself (Adam Salter). It was brave to bring him alive, rather than just have a scary voice off-stage. Ricky K as Jack and Barry Hester as Dame Trot did well not to be totally overshadowed by the show’s celebrity guests.
I particularly loved the audience sing-off, led by Tommy and Bobby. It was brilliant and had us all shouting and jeering at our rivals. And while the chance to throw foam ‘bricks’ at the giant by the audience members nearly ended in chaos, it proved that this show was all about the paying public having fun, fun, fun – and we did.
From the Luton and Dunstable Express:
I’m not really a pantomime kind of girl.
The whole thing sounds a bit noisy for me so it is after a large glass of wine that I take my seat at the Alban Arena for Jack and The Beanstalk.
The Alban Arena’s far from bargain basement production boasts a ‘real’ giant, a huge supporting cast and the legendary Cannon and Ball so if I am to see a panto it may as well be a really good quality one.
Far from sounding like Scrooge I actually enjoyed myself. Cannon and Ball were funny; their caustic one liners and end of the pier style gags won over both the kids and their parents alike.
I enjoyed throwing foam rocks at the giant, I enjoyed the hilarious gruff voiced pantomime dame and I even enjoyed the strangled cat rendition of one of the songs from High School Musical.
A low point, I must say, came halfway through the second half when an over excited child (or heaven forbid adult) soiled themselves a couples of rows from our seats plunging our entire seating area into some kind of horrendous stench purgatory. It was eye wateringly bad, but par for the course I guess at what is essentially a children’s event. It just made me realise that I am not ready to be a parent any time soon. IAlthough on leaving the auditorium I was happy to smell the clean St Albans air I wouldn’t have not gone to the Panto. I just don’t know if I would go again in a hurry.