Checking out the talent at Panto Factor auditions

Panto Factor panel from left: Bev Creagh, Anna Kumble, Rob Pearce, Jasette Amos

Panto Factor panel from left: Bev Creagh, Anna Kumble, Rob Pearce, Jasette Amos

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The Panto Factor panel – and yes folks, that’s me on the left in the photo – saw some awesome talent at Dunstable’s Grove Theatre on Sunday.

It’s pretty scary sitting alongside the likes of the magnificent Ms Jasette Amos, delectable Anna Kumble – aka 1990s pop star Lolly – and drop dead gorgeous actor Robert Pearce, so Lord knows how it must feel to be strutting your stuff on stage in front of us.

It takes courage, chutzpah and lashings of charisma to make an impression . . . but that’s what pantomime’s all about.

We were looking for a swashbuckling Robin Hood and the ultimate damsel-in-distress, Maid Marian, to star in this year’s festive offering, Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood.

And it was heartening to see so many locals lining up to see if they had what it takes.

There was a further audition at London’s Pineapple Studios on Monday and the best of those, plus the 12 we selected on Sunday, have been invited to the recall audition on Saturday (September 20) when the top 10 will go forward to the Grand Final Concert at the Grove on Thursday, September 25 at 7pm.

Finalists will be asked to prepare two songs – a solo accompanied by piano, and a duet using a backing track.

And the good news is YOU can be at this exciting theatrical event and watch the winners being crowned.

Call the box office on 01582 602080 for tickets priced at only £5 each.

The wannabes we saw included some classy professionals as well as a clutch of really keen amateurs – a couple of whom had auditioned last year, taken heed of the judges’ feedback and come back to see if they could make the cut. Some did, some didn’t.

It’s tough telling someone who dreams of a glittering showbiz career that they’ll never make the grade.

But my fellow judges try to let them down gently and suggest pursuing their love of musical theatre in the amateur arena.

One local lass with a sweet voice was advised to try folksinging. Another has been invited back so he can see for himself the calibre of other contestants and realise, once and for all, that his future is not on the stage.

We all fell in love with a ravishing Russian who would have made Sherwood Forest sizzle with sex appeal but sadly his voice wasn’t suitable.

I was also rather taken with a Hertfordshire hunk wearing blue suede shoes but alas he too will never the wear the green huntsman’s hat.

> Neighbours star Alan Fletcher is the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood, which opens on December 12.