Panto reminiscences of the pop star and the X Factor soul singer

Anna Kumble as Fairy of the Forest in Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood
Anna Kumble as Fairy of the Forest in Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood

Get ready to shiver in your shoes as two of the most stunning voices in showbiz take to the stage at Dunstable’s Grove Theatre this Christmas.

They belong to Anna Kumble – former pop star Lolly – and Andy Abraham, who soared to fame as the Singing Binman in the X Factor, 2005.

They’re appearing alongside Neighbours star Alan Fletcher in Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood and both are veteran panto performers – oh yes, they are!

Anna’s even an associate director on the production for Magic Beans, the company behind the show.

She’s playing the Fairy in the Forest while Andy has been cast as Little John – a very soulful Little John, he insists.

“At first introduction he seems a bit macho but he’s also got an emotional side, which is quite funny,” Andy says.

The father-of-two, who lives in Cheshunt with his wide Denise, says one of his regrets is being a late starter as far as panto is concerned.

“I didn’t realise how much fun it was until I saw Aladdin with Chico Slimani, who was in X Factor with me,” he recalls. “And it’s even more fun being in the cast. I love the audience participation, particularly in the ghost routine, and I love the little innuendos that keep the adults amused as well.”

Anna was five when she was taken to see Lionel Blair in Cinderella at the Birmingham Hippodrome. “All I remember is gripping the seat firmly when they were asking children to go on stage,” she laughs.

“When I was about eight I appeared as a ginger bread man in Dick Whittington. I had to wear a hessian bag with slits cut in it for eyes.”

Panto and Christmas are synonymous for the former Brit Award nominee. “I just love it,” she says. “It means getting dressed up and having a laugh. It doesn’t seem like work, although there’s a lot of work involved.

“And audiences are up for a good time, they want to be entertained.

“It’s also a great British tradition, which is nice.”

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