Dancer, choreographer, celebrity jungle competitor and stage favourite Wayne Sleep will head the cast of this year’s Norwich Theatre Royal pantomime.
The acclaimed performer will play the villain Phineas P Stinkworthy in Jack and the Beanstalk which takes to the Norwich Theatre Royal stage from December 13 to January 15.
And it marks a return to the city’s panto spotlight for Wayne after he previously starred in Goldilocks and the Three Bears back in 1984.
Destined to dance, Wayne won a Leverhulme Scholarship to the Royal Ballet School at the age of 13 and five years later, he joined the Royal Ballet Company soon becoming a Senior Principal Dancer and had numerous roles created for him by the likes of Sir Frederick Ashton, Sir Kenneth MacMillan, Dame Ninette de Valois and Rudolf Nureyev.
In 1980, he formed his own company DASH which performed in the West End and all over the world including at Norwich Theatre Royal. It aimed to bring dance to a wider audience using a mix of styles including ballet, jazz, tap and contemporary.
Wayne has become a big star in his own right appearing in a wide range of TV and stage shows including I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here, Celebrity Come Dine With Me, four Royal Variety Performances, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Cats, This Is Your Life, Parkinson and Wogan.
He was awarded the OBE in 1998, is a patron of the Royal Ballet Organization and is Vice-President of the Royal Academy of Dance, and has also set up The Wayne Sleep Foundation which provides scholarships to talented young people to further their dance and theatre training.
Three more top touring performers will also join Wayne and other previously announced stars Richard Gauntlett and Ben Langley in the festive spectacular.
Taking on the title role of Jack Trottalot is David Burilin, who returns to the theatre’s pantomime cast after playing Prince Frederick in last year’s production of Snow White. As well as delighting panto audiences in the past, he is no stranger to the theatre having also appeared at the Theatre Royal in Jesus Christ Superstar.
Born in Merseyside, his other previous stage performances include the West End and touring production of Evita, Whistle Down The Wind which toured the UK, and the Olivier Awards where he performed a Cabaret medley backed by a 57-piece orchestra at the Royal Opera House in London.
David is looking forward to being part of Jack and the Beanstalk. He said: “I’m so excited to be back. I had so much fun working in Norwich on panto last year. When I was offered the role of Jack, I felt so privileged to be able to take part in another fun-filled festive season. It does not seem like work!”
Meanwhile the role of Joleyn Hiccup will be played by Mira Ormala. She will return to the panto cast fresh from a late summer appearance at the Theatre Royal for the National Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company. One of Mira’s biggest previous productions was being part of the West End cast of Love Never Dies and she is no stranger to London’s theatre-land with appearances in the likes of You Won’t Succeed On Broadway, Cinderella and The Great British Musicals.
A hugely-respected singer, Mira has also performed in Madam Butterfly at the Savonlinna Opera Festival and was a vocalist with Elton John at the Royal Albert Hall.
Jack and the Beanstalk will also mark the return of David Gant to the panto cast as the Sheriff, Phil Hiccup. He last appeared in Sleeping Beauty in 2011 in the city and is set to bring his stage presence and comic touch to the show. David began his working life as a banker before switching to train as an actor in his early Thirties.
Since then, he has been hugely busy with a wide range of roles in movies like Victor/Victoria and Gandhi, and TV programmes including Midsomer Murders, Holby City, Father Brown and Sherlock. David is also a highly sought-after male model showcasing a number of brands in photo-shoots for a host of global clients.
David said returning to the Norwich panto cast will be a joy. He said: “The production values are first class. It is a collaborative affair on-stage, backstage and front-of-house, and then you have the audiences who lift you so much.
“I always enjoy being back in Norwich. It has quality and style and the most unusually wonderful castle with the largest teapot in the world as well as the chance to work with Richard Gauntlett again. The largest teapot in the world and Richard Gauntlett. What more can I ask for?”
John Bultitude, of Norwich Theatre Royal, said: “We are very excited to welcome Wayne, David, Mira and David to the cast of Jack and the Beanstalk. Wayne Sleep’s long career as a highly respected dancer and actor speaks for itself. David Burilin’s strong theatrical pedigree, Mira’s enthusiasm and fabulous voice, and David Gant’s stage presence are also set to make this an incredible panto.
“Add in panto favourites Richard and Ben, and with more star casting to be announced, Jack and the Beanstalk is set to be a fantastic family production. Oh yes it is!”