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Hackney Empire announces casting for 2017 pantomime Cinderella

Aisha Jawando as Cinderella and Kat B and Tony Whittle as the Ugly Sisters in Hackney Empire's Cinderella 2017
Aisha Jawando as Cinderella and Kat B and Tony Whittle as the Ugly Sisters in Hackney Empire’s Cinderella 2017

Hackney Empire today announces casting for its highly anticipated 2017 Christmas pantomime, Cinderella, having last been staged at the venue in 2011. Established West End performer Aisha Jawando (Motown the Musical, Beautiful) will be stepping into the glass slippers of the title role. She will be joined by Hackney Empire pantomime legends Tony Whittle and Kat B as the Ugly Sisters. Peter Straker (Hair, Tommy) will reprise the role of Baron Hardup, having last played the role in 2011, Darren Hart (Justin’s House, Gigglebiz) will play Buttons and writer and director Susie McKenna (Cats, Ragtime) will also be taking on the role of Wicked Stepmother. Making their Hackney Empire pantomime debuts will be West End performers Stephane Anelli (Saturday Night Fever, Singing in the Rain) as Dandini and Chris Jenkins (Billy Elliot, War of the Worlds) as Prince Charming. The production will also feature Sharon D Clarke and Clarke Peters as the voices of Duchess and Duke Mouse.

The cast will also include Chloe Ames, Thomas Audibert, Andrew Carthy, Raffaella Covino, Sinead Long and Dale White. Cinderella will run from Saturday 18 November – Sunday 31 December with press night on Thursday 23 November.

Marking their 19th pantomime for Hackney Empire, Cinderella will be written and directed by Susie McKenna with original music by Steven Edis. The award-winning team has been the creative force behind London’s number one pantomime for nearly two decades and will once again be bringing a classic story bang up to date.

This Christmas, Harlem meets Hackney in the classic rags to riches tale of Cinderella. In true Hackney Empire style that brings West End value at East End prices, this magical, family pantomime will be packed with glittering sets, big song and dance numbers, slapstick comedy plus a flying horse, all played out in the beautiful Victorian Theatre.

Aisha Jawando (Cinderella) was most recently seen as Martha Reeves in the original London cast of Motown the Musical and Carmen in The Life (Southwark Playhouse). Other stage credits include Legally Blonde (Leicester Curve), Fela (National Theatre), Disney’s The Lion King (West End) and Beautiful (West End).

Aisha Jawando and Clapton the Horse in Hackney Empire's Cinderella 2017
Aisha Jawando and Clapton the Horse in Hackney Empire’s Cinderella 2017 Credit Perou

Tony Whittle (Ugly Sister) returns to Hackney Empire following his role as King Eric of the Undecided in last year’s production of Sleeping Beauty. Tony has starred in many previous pantomimes at Hackney Empire including Dick Whittington, Jack and the Beanstalk, Aladdin and Mother Goose. Other stage credits include Twelfth Night, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Kiss Me Kate, all for Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, Singin’ in the Rain (UK Tour) and Les Miserables 25th Anniversary concert at the O2.

Kat B (Ugly Sister) is a regular on the Hackney Empire stage, with previous appearances including Jack and the Beanstalk, Mother Goose, Puss in Boots, Dick Whittington, Cinderella, The Wiz, A Christmas Carol, Aladdin and last year’s pantomime Sleeping Beauty. Kat is best known for his antics on MTV Base where he has presented numerous shows around the world. His film and television credits include Waterland and Street Wise (BBC) and the Richard Blackwood Show (Channel 4). Kat is also the resident host of the Real Deal Comedy Jam and a regular on the Jongleurs Circuit.

Peter Straker (Baron Hardup) first shot to fame in 1968 when he starred as Hud in the original London production of Hair. Since then Peter has starred in countless West End productions including Hot Stuff, The Rocky Horror Show, The Rat Pack and most recently Tommy, plus classical roles including Julius Caesar (Old Vic) and Measure for Measure (National Theatre). Peter is also known for his work with Freddie Mercury, including on the tracks Barcelona and The Great Pretender. He was last seen on the Hackney Empire stage in 2011’s production of Cinderella.

Darren Hart (Buttons) makes his return to Hackney Empire after starring in last year’s pantomime Sleeping Beauty. His other theatre credits include Mother Goose and Jack and the Beanstalk (Hackney Empire), Lonely Londoners (National Theatre Studio), Home, Clockwork, Cinderella and Red Riding Hood (all Theatre Royal Stratford East), That Face (Soho Theatre), Henry IV parts 1 & 2 and His Dark Materials (both National Theatre). Television credits include regular appearances in Justin’s House and Gigglebiz (both BBC).

Susie McKenna (Wicked Stepmother / Director / Writer) has written and directed critically acclaimed pantomimes since 1998, since first starting as a principle boy in Nottingham Playhouse pantomimes. Her most recent directing credits include The Silver Sword, a musical adaptation of Ian Serraillier’s novel, written by Susie and Steve Edis. Other credits include Blues in the Night, A Midsummer Night’s Madness (Hackney Empire, New York and Edinburgh Festival) and Once on this Island (Hackney Empire, Birmingham Rep, Nottingham Playhouse). She was nominated for the League of Professional Theatre Women’s Guild/Coigney International Theatre Award for developing international links. She has also worked as an actor for over 30 years and credits include Chicago, Cats, Ragtime and The Witches of Eastwick in the West End, TV shows such as Mr Bean and Casualty and films such as Cats, Jack and Sarah and Muppets Most Wanted.

Stephane Anelli (Dandini) is an established stage performer with credits including Tony Manero in Saturday Night Fever (UK Tour and West End), Sinatra (London Palladium), Fiddler on the Roof (Sheffield Crucible), On the Town (London Coliseum), Never Forget (Savoy Theatre), Legally Blonde (Savoy Theatre), Ragtime and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (both Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre) and Singin’ in the Rain (Palace Theatre and UK Tour).

Chris Jenkins (Prince Charming) marks his Hackney Empire pantomime debut this year, having starred in Milton Keynes’ pantomime Dick Whittington in 2016. West End theatre credits include War of the Worlds (Dominion), Billy Elliot (Victoria Palace), Spamalot (Playhouse Theatre) and The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (Gielgud Theatre).

Cinderella will have Production Design by Lotte Collett, Musical Direction by Mark Dickman, Lighting Design by Paul Anderson, Sound Design by Adam Fisher, Choreography by Richard Roe, Assistant Direction by Matt Dempsey and Creature Design by Scott Brooker.


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