Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Aladdin Press Launch 2010

One of the country’s most popular entertainers, Christopher Biggins, arrived in Wolverhampton on June 23rd for an exclusive launch event for our 2010/11 Christmas pantomime Aladdin, in which he will star as Widow Twankey, as part of our year-long build up to the show's premiere on December 11th.

As one of the true great pantomime dames, Biggins donned full costume and makeup to pose for the media at Novotel Wolverhampton.

Christopher said: “Aladdin really is a magical pantomime for people of all ages. I’m very much looking forward to performing in Wolverhampton especially as this will mark my first panto outing there. Midlands audiences are absolutely fantastic; they are always so friendly and welcoming.”

Read on to find out what the press had to say about meeting 2007's King Of The Jungle!

"With the wig and heavy make-up it may be difficult to identify the actor dressed up as a panto dame - however once Christopher Biggins opens his mouth the mystery is solved. His big booming voice and infectious laughter means he attracts curious glances and waves from fans - but the showbiz legend takes it all in his stride and stops to talk to his admirers like they are long lost friends.

"This is a phenomenal pantomime, when we did it in Plymouth last year it broke all box office records," says Biggins. "It's like an old-fashioned London Palladium pantomime." Biggins says this is his tenth pantomime as Widow Twankey. "I like Twankey because she is a bit of a sauce pot," he says, chuckling. "She always has a twinkle in her eye."

- Cathy Spencer, Express & Star

Biggins interviewed by Beacon FM's Jo JesmondBiggins first came to our screens as regular character Lukewarm in the popular TV comedy Porridge with Ronnie Barker. He then went onto to perform in the cult film The Rocky Horror Show; a role that led him to perform as the narrator several times in the stage version. In 2007 he was crowned “King of The Jungle” winning the popular ITV show I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here. This year he appeared on Channel 4’s popular programme Come Dine With Me, along with Philip Olivier, with his dinner party crowned overall winner.

Life in panto - "It's my 38th or 39th, I've lost count" - should be easier for Biggins. Although he has warned his good friend Joan Collins, who he has persuaded to make her panto debut this year, that it is hard work. "She's been saying: 'I'll have a song. I'll do this and I'll do that'. I told her: 'Be careful, it's exhausting'.

"I know she did long hours on Dynasty, but that wasn't a a solid two hours of energy on stage, twice a day for six days a week. You have to look after yourself. I take vitamins and almost get into training for panto. I'm really looking forward to this year. We have lavish costumes, spectacular sets and an extraordinary 3D genie".

- Roz Laws, Sunday Mercury

And follow the link below to see what Wolf FM DJ Niel Jackson had to say about meeting Christopher in the flesh!

Staged by Qdos Entertainment, the world’s largest pantomime producer, Aladdin has all of the elements of traditional family pantomime but with the added surprise of an array of outstanding and unmissable visual effects. Wearing 3D glasses at points throughout the pantomime, you can see the magical Genie rise from his lamp and move around the auditorium, rub the magic lamp as it hovers right in front of your nose and see further 3D wizardry transform the stage into a 3D cave of riches, where Aladdin finds his fortune. The show also features a wonderful 3D magic carpet ride sequence and other surprises.

Christopher will be joined on stage by the hilarious Paul Zerdin. Paul is, without doubt, the country’s top comedy ventriloquist. As well as numerous television appearances, including The Royal Variety Show, Tonight at the London Palladium, The Generation Game and Late Night With Jerry Springer, to name but a few, Paul has also staged his own sell-out summer season shows and last year he appeared at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Aladdin opens at the Grand Theatre on Saturday 11 December 2010 and runs until Sunday 30 January 2011. Tickets can be booked on 01902 42 92 12 or online at

Photo credit: Graeme Braidwood

Friday, 1 January 2010

ALADDIN is announced!

As this year’s panto Cinderella continues in Wolverhampton, the Grand Theatre is delighted to announce that next year it will be presenting Aladdin, starring panto legend Christopher Biggins as Widow Twankey.

From the company behind this year’s Cinderella, Aladdin will be another sensational combination of comedy, music and stunning special effects.

Biggins first came to our screens as regular character Lukewarm in the popular TV comedy Porridge with Ronnie Barker. He then went on to perform in the cult film The Rocky Horror Show, a role that led him to perform as the narrator several times in the stage version. In 2007 he was crowned “King of The Jungle” by winning the popular ITV show I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here. This year he appeared on Channel 4’s popular programme Come Dine With Me along with Philip Olivier, with his dinner party crowned overall winner. Biggins has appeared in pantomime for nearly forty years and is looking forward to performing at The Grand:

“I am delighted to confirm that next year I will be treading the boards (and donning Widow Twankey’s frocks) in Wolverhampton!

This won’t be my first performance at the Grand, but it is my first pantomime there so I’m incredibly excited to be performing in one of the country’s biggest and best-loved venues.”


runs from Saturday 11th December 2010 to Sunday 30th January 2011.

Performance Times:
Tuesday to Saturday at 2.30pm and 7.15pm, Sundays at 2pm and 6pm.

Ticket Prices:
Black & Red shows: £15.50 - £23.50
Green shows: £11.50 - £17.50

Check with our Box Office for more information on 01902 42 92 12.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Cinders in fandabidozi panto

:: This review originally appeared on the Shropshire Star website on 16th December 2009 ::

Who’d have thought it – the Krankies are massively popular again. Oh yes they are!

Back for an all-star panto run of Cinderella at Wolverhampton’s Grand Theatre and playing Baron Hardup and Buttons, the comedy double act’s resurrection is nothing short of a fairytale.

Then again, their childish messing about and adolescent jokes are simply the perfect ingredients for pantomime, and this production of the Christmas favourite is truly magical, hitting the perfect balance between tickling the kids’ funny bones while at the same time playing to the adults – kind of like the Simpsons, only with Ian Krankie as Homer and Jimmy Krankie as Bart.

We all know the Cinderella story – it’s how we get to what we know that sets a panto apart. And this version of the family classic does it with some style.

Fabulous outfits, spellbinding sets and magic befitting of the wand of any fairy godmother who dishes out wishes and makes them come true.

Neighbours star Stefan Dennis plays the ghastly Dandini who tries to scupper the prince’s plans to wed Cinders, while X Factor star Niki Evans shows her true talent as the Fairy Godmother.

Add into the mix fun, frolics, a flying horse and, fresh from his TV commercial, Churchill the dog, and we have a Christmas panto with bells on.

But really it’s the Krankies who make this a family show to behold. At one point, wee Jimmy Krankie tries to gatecrash the ball by dressing up as Britain’s Got Talent sensation Susan Boyle, complete with hairy eyebrows, and the result is truly hilarious. We even get to see Sue-Bo naked.

As they say in Krankyland: this panto is fandabidozi- oh yes it is!

Another wacky and wonderful seasonal show

:: This article originally appeared on The Shuttle website on 16th December 2009 ::

THE queen of British variety is back for another wacky and wonderful seasonal show at this Black Country theatrical gem.

Janette Krankie, who this year celebrated 40 years of marriage to partner in comedy crime Ian, lights up the stage with every appearance, whether it’s as Cinderella’s trusty chum Buttons, cheeky Wee Jimmy Krankie, foul-mouthed Ozzy Osbourne or fellow Scottish sensation Susan Boyle, complete with Denis Healey eyebrows and an incontinent cat.

Her ab libs and timing are as sharp as ever. I loved her comment to a weeping Cinderella that “it could be worse, you could be watching Joe Pasquale at the Birmingham Hippodrome” - a reference to the Grand’s West Midlands panto rival.

Janette receives strong support throughout in this excellent show. Neighbours baddie Stefan Dennis hams it up as treacherous Dandini while Danielle York is a sweet Cinders.

Ben Stock and Nathan Kiley get plenty of laughs as ugly sisters Trinny and Susannah, whose over the top costumes would make Gok Wan faint and Nic Greenshields’s Prince Charming is suitably dashing - though very tall!

And I was really impressed by the Midlands’ own Niki Evans, whose bubbly personality shines through in her Fairy Godmother role. She gets the best songs, too.

A fab, festive night out with songs, chuckles and something for all ages. The flying horse that closes act one has to be seen to be believed.

- Teresa Phillips

Audience has a ball as jokes are Krankied up

:: This review originally appeared on the Express & Star website on 16th December 2009 ::

Explosions, a flying horse, a fairy godmother with a thick Brummie twang and The Krankies in fine form – panto season in Wolverhampton is well and truly underway.

Thousands of visitors both young and old will flock to the city’s Grand Theatre over the next month-and-a-half to check out this year’s offering of Cinderella.

Billed as ‘the greatest panto of them all’, Cinderella has everything you could want, or indeed expect, from a pantomime, from the dastardly evil villain, the dashing prince, the sugary-sweet leading lady and plenty of slapstick comedy.

This was provided mainly by The Krankies, whose energetic, high-spirited and charming performance made them a big hit with last night’s audience. It was Janette Krankie’s uncanny portrayal of Britain’s Got Talent finalist Susan Boyle that sparked the biggest laugh of the night.

Recreating SuBo’s now infamous first audition, she donned a wig, thick black eyebrows and her best singing voice to take off her fellow Scot with ease. Neighbours villain Stefan Dennis, best known for his role as Paul Robinson, fitted the role of Dandini well, played with a Gollum-esque feel.

His scheming was matched only by that of the ugly sisters, aka Trinny and Susannah, played by Ben Stock and Nathan Kiley.

The beautiful Danielle York, playing Cinderella was just as you would expect the pantomime princess to be – enchanting, gentle and sickly sweet. She was well-matched with her Prince Charming, the impossibly tall Nic Greenshields.

Former X Factor semi-finalist Niki Evans played the Fairy Godmother. Her vocals were impressive throughout.

The backdrops were well thought-out and seamlessly engineered. But it was a flying horse and carriage, whisking Cinderella to the ball at the end of the first half, that was most impressive. This year’s panto is everything it should be – heckles and insults were merrily banded about and the crowd left smiling. And that’s just the way we like it. Oh yes we do.

- Catherine Dalton

If you think The Krankies are just an act from the past, forget it!

:: This review originally appeared in the Walsall Advertiser on 16th December 2009 ::

TINY Janette Krankie has become a giant of the pantomime scene, and she is back in the Black Country with husband, Ian, to delight audiences at the Grand.

Now in her 60s, she is a gleaming bright Buttons and a laugh-a-minute star who simply carries the show with her jokes and sketches, sometimes living up to her cheeky reputation as the 'Dirty Wee Boy'.

If you think The Krankies are just an act from the past, forget it. In these days of so-called alternative comedy they are a breath of fresh air, and two scenes where Janette comes on stage in black wig and shades as Ozzy Osbourne - expletives bleeped out - then as a mini Susan Boyle, singing I Dreamed a Dream, are quite brilliant.

Ian, as Baron Hardup, plays his part, too, as the straight man of the pair and joins his better half in a very funny sketch with a bunch of ghosts.

Former X Factor semi-finalist Niki Evans is a confident Fairy Godmother with a Black Country accent, and a spectacular new twist to the scene where she creates a coach from a pumpkin sees a winged Pegasus fly above stage taking Cinderella (Danielle York) to the glitzy ball.

Ben Stock and Nathan Kiley impress as the Ugly Sisters with an amazing wardrobe of colourful costumes to die for... or die from! Neighbours star Stefan Dennis is Dandini, unusually cast as the panto villain, with Nic Greenshields playing Prince Charming. Even the insurance dog, Churchill, turns up

At times the orchestra, directed by David Lane, is a little too powerful, but Wee Janette is the 'big noise' that matters.

- Paul Marston

Ugly truth of how to prepare for sisters role

:: This video originally appeared on the Express & Star website on 16th December 2009 ::

From the bright, red lipstick to the ghastly frocks, Ben Stock and Nathan Kiley definitely look the part as the ghastly Ugly Sisters in this year’s pantomime Cinderella at Wolverhampton’s Grand Theatre.

But it’s not such a simple task to look this bad and appear, well, ugly.

The pair, who play Trinny and Susannah in the family show, have to painstakingly apply their own make-up for every show, and it’s not an easy task – especially since they were given no training.

Ben said: “No-one showed us how to apply the make-up we just made it up at home,” he said. “It took a lot of practice.” To transform into the show’s baddies, Ben and Nathan have to use wax on their eyebrows, apply very heavy eye make-up and add on the customary beauty spot to their faces.

And they have up to six costume changes for one show, which includes changing into different tights, shoes, dresses and wigs – not so easy if you happen to be a couple of blokes. Nathan added: “We went make-up shopping with a friend which was quite comical.

“We also have outrageous outfits and vulgar colours for our eyes.”

They have to don ghastly dresses and totter around the stage in high heels.

A fractured finger makes the process even harder for Ben, who also sprained his ankle two weeks ago.

“The show must go on,” he added.