It might be September but it's never too early to feel the festive magic! Time to meet the people bringing this year's Stratford East panto to the stage...
Nikhil Singh Rai will be getting ready to climb the beanstalk as Jack, with Lucy Frederick as the villanous Flesh Creep.
Joining them will be Max Gill as Bill, Savanna Jeffrey as Winnie the Moo, Billy Lynch as Junior, and Eli London and Jamie Tait as Ensemble.
With book and lyrics by writer of Succession and Killing Eve, Anna Jordan, music and lyrics by Stratford East pantomime veteran Robert Hyman, and directed by Stratford East’s Sky Arts Associate Artist for 2023, Denzel Westley-Sanderson, JACK AND THE BEANSTALK is sure to tear up the rulebook with a brand-new Stratford East twist.
Also announced today are the creative team bringing the show to life:
Book and lyrics by Anna Jordan
Music and lyrics by Robert Hyman
Directed by Denzel Westley-Sanderson
Set and Costume Designer Lily Arnold
Lighting Designer Simisola Majekodunmi
Sound Designer Beth Duke
Musical Director Lee Freeman
Choreographer André Fabien Francis
Assistant Director Ashen Gupta
Casting Director Richard Johnston for Pippa Ailion Casting
Illusion Consultant Sam Lupton
Costume Supervisor Isobel Pellow
Lucy Frederick (Flesh Creep) is a comedian, actor and writer best known for her ‘eye wateringly honest’ (The Scotsman) shows about the human condition at the Edinburgh Fringe and playing Myra DuBois’ sister Rose Lavender both onstage and onscreen. As an actor, Lucy won a scholarship to train at the prestigious East 15 Acting School, and her writing has been performed in a number of off West End theatres. In 2022, Lucy starred as Bab Snatchett in A Christmas Carole, written by Myra DuBois for TuckShop and Trafalgar Theatre Productions at Southend Palace Theatre.
Max Gill (Bill) trained at Emil Dale Academy. Theatre includes The Boy in the Dress (RSC), Bugsy Malone and Herons (Lyric Hammersmith Theatre). Screen includes Dumbo (Disney), The Lost Girls (Ingenious) and Man Down (Channel 4). Workshops include Fangirls (Sonia Friedman Productions).
Savanna Jeffrey (Winnie the Moo) trained at Italia Conti Academy (Acting) BA. Theatre includes Get Up Stand Up! The Bob Marley Musical (Lyric Theatre), The Book of Mormon (The Prince of Wales Theatre) and Diego Garcia (Spotlight Theatre). Short film includes Injustice and Test (Role Film).
Eli London (Ensemble) theatre credits include Antigone (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre). Eli also starred in a national campaign with RNIB: See the Person, Not the Sightloss.
Billy Lynch (Junior) trained at London Studio Centre. Theatre includes Sinderfella (Prince of Wales) and The Wonderful (Theatre Peckham). Workshops include The Business of Love (The Hope Theatre) and Christie Done It. Credits whilst training include Legally Blonde (Pleasance Theatre), Cabaret and Little Shop of Horrors (Studio Theatre, artsdepot). Billy was also a singer and dancer on the Regent Seven Seas Voyager and Oceania Riviera (Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd).
Nikhil Singh Rai (Jack) trained at the ArtsEd Sixth Form and Mountview. Theatre includes South Pacific (Sadler’s Wells/UK & Ireland tour), Stephen Sondheim's Old Friends (Sondheim Theatre), Love Story (Cadogan Hall) and Magic at the Musicals (Royal Albert Hall). Workshops include The Creakers (Theatre Royal Plymouth) and Back in the Daytimer (Kahani Arts).
Jamie Tait (Ensemble) theatre includes Get Up, Stand Up! The Bob Marley Musical (Lyric Theatre), Motown the Musical (Shaftesbury Theatre), Beautiful: The Carole King Musical (Aldwych Theatre), Guys and Dolls (Manchester Royal Exchange), The Producers (Gordon Craig Theatre), West Side Story (Stratford-upon-Avon) and Babes in Arms (Ye Olde Rose and Crown).
Anna Jordan (Book and Lyrics) is a writer for stage and screen, a director and facilitator. Theatre credits include: Pop Music (Paines Plough / Birmingham Rep / Hull Truck Theatre), Mother Courage and Her Children (Royal Exchange / Headlong), We Anchor In Hope (Bunker Theatre), The Unreturning (Frantic Assembly / National Tour / Theatre Royal Stratford East). Anna won the Bruntwood Prize in 2013 for her play YEN, which has had productions at The Royal Exchange, Royal Court and MCC New York as well as several international productions. It was also shortlisted for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. TV credits include: Succession, Killing Eve, Becoming Elizabeth and the TV adaptation of One Day. She has recently finished her debut feature film. Anna also teaches acting and playwriting. She has worked as a mentor for young people, writers and actors and has taught at several drama schools. Anna runs regular events, workshops and Creative Check-ins through her company, Without a Paddle Theatre.
Robert Hyman (Music and Lyrics) was born down the road in East Ham, and is a composer, lyricist, musical director and performer. Robert has been associated with the Theatre Royal Stratford East panto for the last 25 years, ever since being the Musical Director of Cinderella in 1998, sometimes as Musical Director, sometimes as Composer/Lyricist and often as both. Highlights include writing the music and lyrics for Cinderella (2007) which was the first pantomime ever to be nominated for an Olivier Award and Rapunzel (2017) which won him a Great British Pantomime Award. Robert was also Musical Director for hit musicals The Big Life (Theatre Royal Stratford East / West End), Reasons To Be Cheerful (Theatre Royal Stratford East / UK Tour), Come Dancing with Ray Davies of The Kinks and the UK tour of Tommy produced by Ramps on the Moon. Other projects include composing a new version of A Tale of Two Cities, which reached the finals of the Vivian Ellis Awards, conducting a choir of 4000 at the O2, and musical directing the inaugural performance of the World Children’s Ensemble at the Royal Albert Hall involving young people from 37 different countries. He writes songs and lyrics as Resident Composer for Image Musical Theatre Co. Robert also works extensively in the training of young people as Musical Director of Theatretrain.
Denzel Westley-Sanderson (Director) is an award-winning theatre director and workshop facilitator based in London. Denzel trained at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts and was part of the Resident Directors' pool at the Almeida Theatre. His show Identity with CTC Dance Company won the award for 'Exciting New Work' at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2019, and he was the winner of the RTST Sir Peter Hall Directing Award in 2021. As Associate Director, credits include: Small Island (National Theatre), A Strange Loop (Barbican Theatre – winner of the Tony award for Best Musical). As Director, credits include: The Importance of Being Earnest (UK Tour). Denzel was the Sky Arts Associate Artist at Stratford East in 2023.