EastEnders’ Steve McFadden and Luton’s Jaymi Hensley star in Dunstable panto

Panto’s back in Dunstable. Oh no, it isn’t! Oh yes, it is.
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It’s not every day you get to see a former X Factor contestant sing alongside an iconic soap character. Well, actually at the Grove Theatre, it is.

From December 8 until 31, Steve McFadden - better known as Eastenders geezer Phil Mitchell - will join Luton lad, Jaymi Hensely, in the fantastical tale of Jack and the Beanstalk.

The pantomime stars Steve as the menacing Flesh Creep and Jaymi as Jack. The show, written by Paul Hendy and produced by Evolution Productions, promises lots of fe fi fo fun for the whole family.

From left: Jaymi, Steve and Oliver. Picture: The Grove TheatreFrom left: Jaymi, Steve and Oliver. Picture: The Grove Theatre
From left: Jaymi, Steve and Oliver. Picture: The Grove Theatre

For Steve, panto is special as he likened the experience to “running away with the circus”. He said: “You take off with this mad troupe of crazy people that have got their specialist stuff that they're fantastic at. I'm normally surrounded by very diligent actors trying to make it all believable but for these guys, it's a show, isn't it?

“It's lovely being immersed in this other world, which is a bit like the circus. It is crazy and lots of fun and it's not my nine-to-five job.”

The TV hardman has even got his family coming to watch him play the panto villain. Steve said: “Christmas is panto for me. My kids will come and see me. I've got five children. There'll be in the aisles, booing and laughing.”

And yes, he did confirm that he would be bringing a bit of Phil to the role.

Jaymi is no stranger to panto having starred in last year’s Cinderella at the Grove. The former Union J band member says he is excited to branch out in a leading role: “I said I'd like to maybe play something with a bit more substance and to get my teeth into something new. I've never played a character like Jack before.”

The Luton-born singer has warned people from a nearby town to not get too offended by some of his jokes. He said: “It just makes it a little bit more special for me playing to a home audience, which is fun. I kind of know the local area so I can put my little two cents in all the funny gags about Houghton Regis.” So watch out when you’re in the audience if you’re from there!

From singing and dancing to waterworks and some jokes just for the adults, the show will be filled with laughs, and the occasional boo, to get you in Christmas mode. And if you are ready to giggle your socks off, Oliver Scott is on hand to help. For his ninth panto, Oliver is back, this time playing Jack’s brother Billy.

He let us in on a few secrets: “There's gonna be some surprises. There is a finale, like no other in panto. And it's gonna be very, very special.

“I say bring your umbrella because there's a lot of war pistols. And there are lots of special effects.”

And Jaymi has a big song that he can’t wait for people to hear. Jaymi said: “I'm really excited about my solo this year. I've actually worked with Paul in rewriting an incredible song and making the lyrics work. It's gonna be a big sing, but I like a challenge.”

Tickets for the pantomime start at £17, with up to three performances every day. Click here to get your tickets.

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