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York Press - Fri 21st Dec 07

http://www.yorkpress.co.uk/whatson/theatre/display.var.1921589.0.
preview_jack_and_the_beanstalk_hull_new_theatre_until_january_12.php

Cannon and Ball have returned to Hull New Theatre for this year's pantomime Jack and The Beanstalk with hopes of setting a new box office record.

They broke the box office in 2005 with Dick Whittington and that record was broken by Cinderella the next year.

One half of the comedy team, Tommy Cannon, took some time out between shows to have a word.

The shows been running since Thursday, December 13, and according to Tommy is going without a hitch, he says: "Like all good shows you start of slowly and it might need a few nips and tucks and then it runs well and hopefully we get to the end with none of the cast getting sick."

When asked about the pantomime Tommy was very enthusiastic, he says: "They have got the most amazing giant, its 40ft tall and nearly 40ft across the shoulders. They also have what must be the world's biggest beanstalk courtesy of the production team Qdos."

Are the Hull audiences especially responsive to the show and do they all join in? He says: "We were in Southend last year and that was great so it's not just Hull. You get shows with mum, dad, grandparents and the children in and you have a great night. Other shows, especially during the day you can have a group of500 school kids in with only four teachers and it is a nightmare. It just depends.

You do see mothers with babes in arms and that's a little strange as they are so young but then you get the other children. Five-year olds coming with their parents and it's their first visit to theatre, with all the colours and the lights. That's very rewarding."

Do Cannon and Ball have any set pieces for this year's audience: "We have a big massive plate routine that is very funny and a sketch with us trying to milk a cow. We can't milk it and the end result is that we have to stick a Hoover up its rear end and suck the milk out which then ends up in a plastic bag, the gag is its boil in the bag."

Tommy and his long time partner Bobby Ball had just returned from a stint on I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here when they performed in Dick Whittington and worked off their new fame by dropping on to the stage by a rope and having jungle music playing for their entrance.

When Tommy was asked will there be any nods to I'm A Celebrity this year he says: "No, not really. We went on the show for the adventure and although nobody says it to get paid a few quid."

Jack and The Beanstalk will run until Saturday, January 12. The shows are Tuesday to Saturday at 2pm and 7pm and on Sundays at 1pm and 5pm. Ticket bookings can be made through the box office on 01482 226655.

Hull Daily Mail - Wed 19th Dec 07

ROCK ON TO BREAK BOX OFFICE RECORDS

Hull New Theatre's annual Christmas pantomime is on course to set box office records for the third year in a row.

Jack And The Beanstalk, starring comedy duo Cannon And Ball and Neighbours star Dan O'Connor, has smashed the theatre's record previously held by last year's production of Cinderella.

The pantomime has already taken more than �552,304 with 39,914 tickets sold. And with more than three weeks of the show and 42 performances still to come, the theatre is confident of another record.

On the same date last year, Cinderella had taken �530,890 and went on to take �661,282.

And with a possible 12,000 tickets left to sell, Hull New Theatre manager Mike Lister is confident of setting a new record, although he accepts the challenge ahead is by no means easy.

He said: "We are hoping to go on and break the record for the third year running.

"It only takes a couple of bad nights to have a negative effect, but we are confident that won't happen.

"We have tried to improve the whole package this year. To make the experience even better for our audience.

"We have a really strong cast, and not just the stars, but the support as well.

"Writer and producer Paul Elliott has also provided a faster- paced script than we have had previously.

"And all of this combined with our good marketing campaign has seen Jack And The Beanstalk prove very successful."

But he acknowledges that a lot of the interest in Jack And The Beanstalk has stemmed from the guest appearances of Cannon And Ball and Dan O'Connor.

He said: "The stars have proved very popular.

"Cannon And Ball have been here before so we were confident they would be popular, but Dan O'Connor has also been a massive hit, especially with females in the audience."

And schoolchildren regularly feature among the audience, with hundreds of pupils from local schools flocking to the show.

One such school was Cottingham High in Harland Way, Cottingham, whose year seven students went as a reward for outstanding behaviour and performance during the term.

Maria Young, a Year 7 Form teacher, supervised the children on their visit to the theatre.

Mrs Young said: "We all really enjoyed it. It was a nice start to the festive period."

The Stage - Fri 21st Dec 07

http://www.thestage.co.uk/reviews/review.php/19410/jack-and-the-beanstalk

There are roars for Cannon and Ball and sighs of appreciation for television heart- throb Dan O�Connor, but it is a struggle for the dispassionate observer to get excited about this pantomime.

Cannon and Ball�s antics will please their fans. They try their hands at the traditional pantomime plate-catching scene and work it to maximum effect. Their banter with fans in the front stalls is as cheeky as ever and has the entire theatre laughing.

Neighbours actor O�Connor plays Jack. He is willing enough and charming enough, in a gauche way, but too much is being asked of him. His stagecraft is raw.

Emily Trebicki�s Fairy teases the story along with playful enthusiasm. This despite being handicapped with a plot device that means she cannot be seen, at certain times, by certain other members of the cast. Confusing? It certainly is. Also confusing is how the Giant, a marvellous creation, manages to get shrunk to the size of a villager.

Ah well. A happy ever after ending at least. Let's hope that this pantomime takes on some spirit. It is colourful enough, despite having unimaginative lighting, and it could be lively enough. The dancers are certainly up for it.