THE beanstalk is growing, the cow is looking worried and the hero is ready to save the day which can only mean one thing. The cast of Jack and the Beanstalk, Poole’s family pantomime, is gathering for the first time at Lighthouse.

Written by former Blue Peter presenter Peter Duncan, who is also playing Dame in panto for the first time, the show features former Sugababes singer Amelle Berrabah as Fairy and Connor Byrne – best known as Mike Milligan from the Tracy Beaker TV series – as Squire. There’s also a twelve-foot Giant to contend with.

“It’s a really lovely bunch to be with,” says Alex Hodge, who’s playing Jack, “which is great because if you have a lovely bunch and a great theatre in a great town you just have so much fun in panto.”

Bethan-Wyn Davies (Jill) couldn’t agree more: “For me the joy of panto is you become a little family unit for the run. It’s over Christmas time so everyone is in good spirits and everything else takes a back seat for that time.”

This is the fourth year running that Lighthouse has co-produced its own pantomime with Duncan Reeves Productions, the company headed by Olivier Award-nominated actor and TV presenter Peter Duncan and musical director Darren Reeves.

“I think Jack and the Beanstalk has one of the best plots out of all the pantomimes,” says director Jay Worthy, who also plays the villainous Fleshcreepy. “It’s got great comedy and the beautiful pathos of Dame Trott having to sell her cow who is like a member of the family.

“I’ve done a lot of Jack and the Beanstalks and I’ve played a lot of Fleshcreeps and it would be really easy to be safe and do what you know works, but we will create something new and unique. I know Peter is writing something completely different so although I don’t know the twists and turns the story will take, we know the shape of it is always the same.”

Connor Byrne, a classically trained ballet soloist with a wealth of stage and screen credits to his name, is genuinely excited at meeting his fellow cast members and getting a feel for the show.

“I’ve never been to Poole before, but I got off the train and I could smell the sea – that’s a good sign,” says the multi-talented performer who’s playing Jill’s father Squire Longshanks. “I’ve got a real sense something special could cook here. The idea of playing with Peter is fun because he’s a bit of a wildcard, you never quite know what he’s going to do. Pantomime is about chemistry and now that I’ve met the others there just might be something special here.

Like Connor, Amelle Berrabah (Fairy) is also keen to work with Peter Duncan again, having met him on the celebrity gymnastics show Tumble.

“He is a bright light, a real comedian,” she says. “He’s very funny and good to talk to as well. I can’t wait to get started – I adore children so to see their faces lit up with excitement at panto means it’s not like working at all. It really is the best thing.”

* Jack and the Beanstalk will run for 40 performances from Thursday, December 12 to Sunday, January 5. Tickets on sale now, call 01202 280000 or book online at