In a delightful twist from our typical music column, this month we embark on a whimsical journey with the talented Ben Ofodeu. Breaking away from his musical roots, Ben is set to grace the stage in a truly mesmerising manner this year – a sensational panto performance. We are ecstatic to delve into Ben’s upcoming panto experience and unravel the magic behind the curtain.
Ben beams with enthusiasm as he talks about his latest role in this grand panto production. While he has been no stranger to the world of pantomime, this year’s endeavour promises to be the grandest of them all. With a staggering cast of approximately 150 individuals, including fire eaters, circus performers, acrobats, and a plethora of daring stunts, it’s safe to say that this panto is on a colossal scale. What’s more, the set is nothing short of breathtaking. Picture a near-full-sized ship that gracefully navigates around the arena, setting the stage for a breathtaking arena tour, captivating audiences ranging from 8,000 to 10,000 spectators. It’s an epic production in every sense of the word.
One of the highlights for Ben is the opportunity to collaborate with the legendary Boy George, an icon held in the highest esteem. As Ben aptly points out, there are only a handful of living icons, and Boy George undoubtedly stands among them. Ben will even serenade the audience with some of Boy George’s greatest hits, including the beloved “Karma Chameleon” – a personal favourite of his. Working alongside Jordan Conway, who portrays Peter Pan, Ben notes the immense potential of this young talent, comparing his acting and comic timing to the legends of yesteryear.
The privilege of being directed by John Conway, a director of formidable reputation, only adds to the excitement. With a track record that includes shows like “Laurel & Chaplin” and “Elf the Musical,” as well as television program credits, this panto is in capable hands. The tour will take Ben and the cast to various cities, including Blackpool, Nottingham, Liverpool, Glasgow, Birmingham, and the illustrious London Apollo, promising a Christmas season full of joy and smiles for people across the country.
This panto is no ordinary production; it’s renowned for its opulent budget and dazzling extravagance. As Boy George states, “I’m really looking forward to playing Captain Hook and showing off my evil side!” His entrance, aboard a life-sized galleon that sails across the stage in front of a spectacular water-wall fountain, sets the tone for the grandeur of the show. While it retains traditional pantomime elements, it’s a fusion of cirque and a spectacular event. Boy George even gets the chance to face off against a giant animatronic crocodile, making the show a thrilling experience.
Adding a touch of Hollywood glamour to the mix is the stage debut of Dorit Kemsley, known for her role in the ‘Real Housewives Of Beverly Hills’ TV show. Playing the mermaid, Dorit is excited to share the stage with her dear friend and godfather to her children, George. In a heartwarming twist, Dorit’s children, Jagger and Phoenix, will also join the cast as part of Peter Pan’s gang, making it a family affair. Though Dorit can’t appear in Liverpool and Cardiff due to prior commitments, her debut will be featured in her ‘RHOBH’ TV show.
When asked about the most challenging aspect of performing in a panto, Ben reflects on the shift from his usual serious DJing and music career. Portraying various roles in different pantos, Ben acknowledges the daunting task of memorising an entire show and its lines. However, his experience and history of successfully donning different characters, from Little John to Herman the henchman and even a genie, have instilled in him the confidence to tackle the unique role of Benny in ‘Peter Pan.’ Together with Starkie, they form a hilarious comedy duo that promises to keep the audience in splits.
In a world of music and seriousness, Ben’s panto performance brings a breath of fresh air, promising to put smiles on countless faces. So, as the curtain rises and the magic unfolds, Ben Ofodeu is all set to take us on an enchanting journey into the captivating world of pantomime.
The show is known for the biggest budget extravaganza!