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Panto cast in town to launch Cinderella
Tue 20 September 2016

THE summer is barely over but the cast of this year’s pantomime were in a festive mood yesterday when they descended on Cricklade House in their multi-coloured furs, leopard-print robes and fineries to launch the countdown to Cinderella.

By Swindon Advertiser Reporter Marion Sauvebois

Former Corrie heartthrob Ryan Thomas was joined by Swindon favourite David Ashley, who this year will return to the Wyvern as scheming Ugly Sister Betty, and co-stars Victoria Farley and Louie Westwood, aka Ugly Sister Brenda and downtrodden heroine Cinders.

The actors had ample time to get to grips with their characters and get acquainted as they explored the romantic grounds before hitching a ride in Cinderella's white horse-drawn carriage.

While David, Louie and Victoria have several Christmas shows under their belts, Cinderella will be soap star Thomas’s first foray into pantomime.

“I’m a complete newbie,” he said. "But my friends have been in panto and my daughter’s mum was in a few so I’ve seen numerous pantos – I reckon I’ve seen more pantos as an adult than as a child. I asked them about it and they said it’s relentless and it’s testing but they also reassured me. I’m going to see how I get on.”

Salford-born Thomas burst onto our television screens on Christmas Day 2000 in the role of Jason Grimshaw in the iconic ITV series - a part he went on to play for more than 16 years. Best known for romantic storylines involving several of the Street’s beauties, the actor should feel at home as Prince Charming.

“I don’t think anything can prepare you for pantomime,” he added. “You learn as you go along. It’s a challenging experience from start to finish. But everybody is so warm and friendly. The cast will me help me out and get through it. I’m going to need all the help I can get."

Cinderella heralds a new phase in a career dominated by Coronation Street, he added.

“I’m really excited," he said. "It’s more relaxed than doing a play. Here you can mix it up, play with the audience, improvise. You don’t know what’s going to happen day to day.

“I’m in the next stage of my career. There's not much more that I wanted out of Coronation Street. I’m happier since I’ve left. It’s a big pressure that job, a lot goes with it. I feel more liberated. It’s a nice feeling."

The cast have their work cut out after the success of last year’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which drew record-breaking crowds to the theatre over Christmas.

The upcoming show marks the 30th anniversary of veteran dame Ashley’s panto debut in Jack and the Beanstalk at the Wyvern.

“I am really overjoyed to be back,” he said. “It sounds cheesy but it’s great to celebrate where it all started for me. The audience in Swindon are the best, and I’m not just saying that. They’re behind the story. They’re so noisy and with panto you’ve got to have that. As soon as you get ‘Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the Wyvern’ they go ballistic. It’s addictive. I love telling good stories.”

Cinderella runs at the Wyvern Theatre from Saturday, December 10 to Sunday, January 8, 2017. To book go to swindontheatres.co.uk or call the box office on 01793 524481.

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