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WHEN CAKE GOES ‘GRAND’!

 On Opening Night at Blackpool Grand Theatre’s the Cinderella audience could not believe their eyes and thought they were seeing double!

Steve Royle star of BBC Radio Lancashire, comedian, writer, and Panto veteran and now in his incredible 15th year at the Blackpool’s Grand is renowned for his hilarious improv and surprise. One such idea came to him when interviewing YouTube Cake Master Rose [Rosie] Dummer. Known for her incredible life-sized cakes and a regular on televisions Extreme Cakes.

Steve envisioned a giant cake to celebrate his time in Pantomime at Blackpool’s Grand Theatre and arranged for Rosie to meet Marketing Manager Andrew Howard and his team to see how and what could be created with the incredible talents of Rosie. Andrew Howard said ‘What a shock, to think about a life-sized cake being made and the logistics of making it part of the show on opening night was no mean feat’

Steve who led the project with The Grand said ‘The initial meeting was about what the design of the cake should be, we had a great discussion and finally we came upon JJ. Thinking about how he should be posed, on one knee, stood, the process was very in-depth.’

The team first met in August, so for 5 months it’s been in the planning.

When JJ Hamblett came to the theatre for the first time in September (for the theatre’s Pantomime Launch, at Anchorsholme Academy) we took the opportunity to get a huge number of photographs and measurements. The detail had to be perfect.

What followed were a huge number of meetings with Steve, Rosie, the show’s producer Martin Dodd (UK Productions), our video and photographic teams, and of course JJ.

Grand Theatre CEO, Ruth Eastwood added ‘The project nearly became as big as the show, logistics of something like this on opening night is not easy – but it was something we thought would be incredibly exciting for the audience.

Producer Martin Dodd of UK Productions said, ‘When I was approached I couldn’t believe it, how were we going to get a life-sized cake to be part of the show, but Andrew the Marketing Team at The Grand convinced me that we could make it work.’

A life-sized cake is incredible fragile and had to be expertly transported by local company Owens Removals. A first for them being asked to transport a cake, and of this size. One of the drivers added ‘when we arrived to collect the ‘statute’ we were blown away, it needed some work getting it on the truck and safely transporting it to The Grand.

‘There was a huge sigh of relief once we unloaded it – An experience never to be forgotten!’

 

A cake of this size is hugely fragile and must be handled with extreme care. Unloading the cake took the team from Owens Removals and a team from the Theatre.

Rosie Dummer said ’The cake which consisted of over 60kg of icing and even more chocolate orange-flavoured cake mix, and took weeks of preparation and work to create. The 6ft cake is three times heavier than Union J singer JJ.’

But the mammoth task wasn’t over, the cake had to be transported through the theatre and into a waiting area while the show took place. Ruth Eastwood added ‘as you can imagine we have an incredible number of different sets and props during the show so the cake had to be in a holding area. Then at the finale it took a team of six to bring the cake to the wings ready for the big reveal.

When Steve Royle announced the cake, it was wheeled on stage, to the huge surprise of JJ and the audience. There was huge applause and laughter and the cast were in ore as we’d managed to keep it a huge secret from them all. The ugly sisters weren’t best pleased mind, they wanted it to be them!’

The cake was then wheeled off by the team and put into secure storage until it’s unveiling which will take place in Houndshill Shopping Centre. The cake will be cut up and given to residents.

As an additional surprise the theatre had commissioned Rosie to complete a cake to celebrate the Grand Theatre and UK Productions 21 years of working together on Pantomime. The theatre had asked for a cake that embodied the theatre, 21 years of pantomime and the shows and casts that had taken part. Rosie’s creation was incredible.

Producer Martin Dodd of UK Productions said, ‘It’s been a 21-year love affair with this magnificent theatre, that really is one of the jewels in this country’s theatre stock. Working alongside the amazing team at Blackpool’s Grand we have not only produced 21 pantomimes but also many musicals that have started their life in this beautiful theatre. It is the perfect place to watch a show and the audiences that we play to in The Grand are some of the best and most responsive in the country. They certainly enjoy all of the elements that make up a great pantomime.

‘I was shocked at the cake Rosie had made for our celebration, I had no idea the theatre had planned it and I I’ve never seen anything like it… I was literally Speechless.’

Back in 1996 the cast was Roy Walker the Northern Irish television personality and comedian, who worked for many years as both a television presenter and comedy actor. Best known as the original host of the game show Catchphrase (1986 to 99), and as one of the stars of the comedy showcase, The Comedians. And most recently in Pick Me! and The Real Marigold Hotel.

Walker is no stranger to Blackpool’s Grand and has appeared on stage many times in both Summer Spectaculars A Night of Laughter With…, and appearing in a special with Blackpool music icon Joe Longthorne in Joe and Roy’s Thursday Night Live.

Starring alongside Walker was Jenny Powell, now ITV’s Saturday Night primetime commentator host Bigheads.

Blackpool’s Grand Theatre is experiencing another incredible year of pantomime this year with Cinderella starring JJ Hamblett (Union J) who stars as Prince Charming, Melanie Walters (Gavin and Stacey) as Fairy Godmother, Olivia Birchenough (Channel 5’s Milkshake) as the beautiful Cinderella and Jamie Morris and Tarot Joseph returning as the Ugly Sisters all starring alongside panto favourite the incredible Steve Royle (BBC Radio Lancashire) who will be making his 15th annual appearance starring as ‘Buttons’, the same role that Roy Walker played in 1996.

This year will also mark ‘Grand’ panto legend Steve Royle’s, 15th annual appearance. Royle has supported both Peter Kay and Dave Spikey on tour and was voted ‘Entertainer of the Year’ at the Red Rose Awards. Royle is also a Patron of the Friends of The Grand and works continually with the theatre on many projects.

Marketing Manager Andrew Howard added, ‘The pantomime season can’t come around fast enough for us all at The Grand and with such a stellar line-up every year we’ll be hoping for another record-breaking year.

Ruth Eastwood added ‘As The Grand aims to be the theatre of choice for Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre and to offer opportunities to enjoy, participate and learn through the arts this year we launched our very special Magic & Sparkle tickets! We’d like our customers to think in these hard times of others that might not be as fortunate as themselves and how much of an experience they would be giving if they purchased one extra pantomime ticket at a very special rate. The theatre will then donate these Magic & Sparkle tickets to organisations and community groups who really need a special treat at Christmas. We’ve made it easy to do whether you’re booking in person, at the Box Office, or online. Just ask or look out for the Magic & Sparkle ticket add-on.’

Blackpool’s Grand has also announced its 2018/19 pantomime Beauty and The Beast which will open on Friday, 7 December 2018 – and tickets are on sale now at blackpoolgrand.co.uk

Beauty and The Beast will be presented by Martin Dodd for UK Productions whom have been presenting the Christmas pantomime at Blackpool’s Grand Theatre since 1996. Other productions presented at The Grand by UK Productions include; Legally Blonde the Musical, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast The Musical, The Kite Runner, 42nd Street, South Pacific, Carousel, Fiddler on the Roof, Oklahoma!, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and Anything Goes.

Cinderella plays at Blackpool Grand Theatre until Sunday 7 January 2018. Tickets are available here or by calling the box office on 01253 290190.

Beauty and The Beast is on sale now, and plays from Friday, 7 December 2018 to Sunday, 6 January 2019.

Tickets are available here blackpoolgrand.co.uk or by calling the box office on 01253 290190.

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