Olivier Award nominated actresses Sharon D Clarke and Josefina Gabrielle will swap the West End stage, where they have both won plaudits for their appearances in hit musicals, for Hackneyonia this Christmas when they star in legendary family pantomime Puss In Boots at the Hackney Empire.
The acclaimed duo, who were last seen on the London stage in the National Theatre’s production of The Amen Corner (Clarke) and the West End transfer of Merrily We Roll Along (Gabrielle), will be joined in Susie McKenna’s 2014 festive offering by Kat B, Stephen Matthews and Matt Dempsey.
Radio and television presenter Kat B will star as the pantomime’s swashbuckling feline alongside Enron star Dempsey as Puss’ master, musical theatre performer Matthews as Dame Nettie Knowall, Clarke as Queen Talulah the Hoo Ha and Gabrielle as evil witch Evilena.
While Puss In Boots marks a return to the Hackney Empire for Clarke, Kat B, Matthews and Dempsey, all of whom have appeared in a number of the venue’s legendary pantomimes, for Gabrielle it will be an induction into the madcap world of colour, songs and costumes for which Hackney pantos have become so well-known.
Completing the cast of the feline-focused festive entertainment, which promises showstopping songs, dazzling dance routines, knockabout comedy and bags of audience participation, are Tony Timberlake (Les Misérables), Amy Lennox (Legally Blonde The Musical), Darren Hart, Allyson Ave-Brown, Tom Andrew Hargreaves and Leon Sweeney.
Playing from 23 November to 5 January, Puss In Boots tells the story of a poor miller’s son who, after receiving the show’s furry title character as his inheritance, sees no way out of his financial troubles. But then he finds out that Puss is no ordinary cat and they embark on an intrepid adventure to the merry kingdom of Hackneyonia in search of wealth.
McKenna’s 15th pantomime, Puss In Boots will feature a magical mix of mash-ups, chart toppers and original songs created by the writer and director’s long-time collaborator Stephen Edis and puppets by Spitting Image’s Scott Brooker.