Families visiting a St Helens shopping centre were treated to a touch of showbiz glamour when stars appearing in the town’s pantomime met fans and posed for pictures.
Benidorm and I’m A Celebrity star Crissy Rock was among the actors appearing in St Helens Theatre Royal’s glittering production of Cinderella, who dropped into the centre, much to the delight of shoppers.
Crissy, nursing a broken toe after an accident, plays Ugly Sister Pouty Pippa in the show, which is sponsored by the shopping centre.
Little Gracie Bell, five, who had watched the panto with her school, Legh Vale Primary in Haydock, couldn’t believe it when the characters walked into Cassandra’s Coffee Shop in Church Square to meet fans.
“They had their costumes on and it was brilliant,” she said.
Mum Liza Rylance said: “Gracie couldn’t believe it. I was chatting to my mum and Gracie shouted ‘There’s Cinderella!’ It was really lovely and made Gracie’s Day.”
Toddler Grace Gibson-Thomas, who will be two on Christmas Day, was also thrilled to see Cinderella and the ugly sisters in the shopping centre.
Mum Andrea Gibson-Thomas, from Billinge, said: “Grace loved it and wasn’t at all scared by it. When we were on holiday someone dressed as the Grim Reaper jumped out at Grace and she was fine. There isn’t much that fazes her.”
Cinderella also stars Corrie actor Marc Baylis who has swapped the cobbles of Wetherfield to play the dastardly Dandini. His Corrie character Rob Donovan is currently behind bars serving time for the murder of Tina McIntyre and making only the odd spine-chilling appearance in the soap, which has given Marc the chance to appear in panto.
Despite tripping and breaking her big toe, Crissy has vowed that the show must go on.
“I couldn’t believe it when I tripped, accidentally kicked a door and broke my big toe,” she said. “Everyone was worried that I wouldn’t be able to carry on and I couldn’t get my shoe on but I had it bandaged up and I’m ok. I just have to be more aware and walk on my heel.
“I love appearing in panto, particularly in St Helens where I’ve played before as they are such a lovely, loyal audience. Playing an ugly sister is great fun as she isn’t really a baddy, she’s just a bit naughty.
“It’s been great visiting the shopping centre to meet people, especially the children as their reaction is brilliant.”
Church Square Shopping Centre manager Steve Brogan said: “We are sponsoring the Theatre Royal’s show this Christmas because we believe we are at the heart of St Helens’ community, and panto is a show that families can enjoy together.
“It was great to see Crissy and the rest of the panto cast at Church Square and shoppers loved it, particularly the children who couldn’t believe that the stars they would normally see on stage were chatting to them and having their photos taken.”
Cinderella runs at the Theatre Royal throughout the festive season, until Sunday January 10, and tickets are on sale now.
Laura Gregory returns in the title role of Cinderella, while taking the role of Prince Charming is Jack Rigby, from ITV drama Mobile and BBC1’s Waterloo Road. St Helens’ resident dame Simon Foster will be on hand as the Fairy Godmother to help Cinders be happy ever after and playing her loveable friend Buttons is Benjamin Engelen.
Also starring in the panto extravaganza are real Shetland ponies, enchanted pumpkins and sparkling glass slippers.
For more information, visit: www.sthelenstheatreroyal.com, or call the box office on 01744 756000.
Church Square Shopping Centre is open daily and home to a range of big name stores – such as the new H&M and Fat Face stores Pandora, River Island, BHS, Boots and Superdrug – along with independent retailers plus the busy St Mary’s Market.
Details on what’s happening at the centre at www.churchsquaresthelens.co.uk