Panto stars enjoy performance as much as the audience does
AN all-star cast can be found at the Assembly Rooms in this high-flying Christmas panto which features Britain's Got Talent winner George Sampson zipping around above the auditorium as Peter Pan – the boy who never grew up.
George is joined in this family-friendly adventure to Never Never Land by TV favourite Larry Lamb, who takes the role of panto villain Captain Hook.
Larry is a relative newcomer to the panto format but no stranger to playing villains, having starred as EastEnder's Archie Mitchell.
"Villains always tend to get the best lines," he said.
"This is particularly enjoyable at a live show when you can wind all the kids up with your general badness and villainy."
A trained Shakespearean actor, Larry said he enjoys the pantomime audiences.
"It's a very different sort of theatre – there are no pretensions around it, which is great.
"Everyone has come for a really good time and they let you know it. I like that. The atmosphere before you enter the stage is amazing."
Larry's side-kick, Smee, is played by comedian Mike McClean, who returns to Derby for the second year running.
Mike learned his craft early by bluffing his way into doing stand-up routines at the tender age of only 14. His cheeky face and humour have endeared him to the city and it seems the feeling is mutual.
"I love Derby," he joked. "It's the only city I've ever been to where they have bouncers on the door at Greggs of an evening."
The celebrity line-up is completed by panto dame Jason Sutton in the role of Dame Able Mabel.
Well-known as a professional drag artist, Jason had wanted to play the pantomime dame for years and now favours it over his regular work.
"It is my Christmas present to myself," he said. "I love it and the atmosphere is amazing. People really let themselves go and have a good time. It's great!"