Tag Archives: Gracie Fields Theatre

The Chase’s ‘Beast’ Mark Labbett is a gentle giant

Jimmy Cricket's February column in the Lancashire Evening Post was about Mark 'The Beast' Labbett from ITV's The Chase

Jimmy Cricket’s latest column in the Lancashire Evening Post was about Mark ‘The Beast’ Labbett from TV’s The Chase.

Famous Northern Irish entertainer Jimmy performed with Mark in pantomime in Ellesmere Port and Rochdale during the last festive season.

Mark  is a ‘Chaser’ on the ITV teatime game show The Chase, which is hosted by Bradley Walsh.

He began the role in 2009 and he has since appeared on the American version as their sole Chaser in 2013 as well as being one of six Chasers in the Australian series. He has also appeared in several other television quiz shows and is a regular in quizzing competitions.

His TV nickname ‘The Beast’ is a reference to both his stature (he’s 6ft 6in tall) and his surname – Labbett sounds like the French ‘la bête’, meaning ‘the beast’.

In his February LEP column, Jimmy told how during the time the panto was in Rochdale, Mark hosted a weekly quiz in The Flying Horse Hotel in the town and then in Ellesmere Port, ended up calling out a few games of bingo at a nearby Mecca hall!

On both occasions, Mark declined a fee and instead arranged for himself and the cast to have a meal courtesy of the two venues.

Added Jimmy: “All thanks to big Mark, our gentle giant with the big heart!”.

 

‘I was thrilled to perform in panto in Rochdale’

Jimmy Cricket tweeted he was thrilled in appear in a pantomime in his adopted hometown of Rochdale

Jimmy Cricket said he was thrilled in appear in a pantomime in his adopted home town of Rochdale.

Famous Northern Irish entertainer Jimmy played Professor Fitzwarren in Dick Whittington in both Ellesmere Port and in Rochdale.

Ellesmere Port Civic Centre staged the show until 20 December and Rochdale’s Gracie Fields Theatre from 22-31 December.

The panto also featured The Chase’s Mark Labbett (known as The Beast), who played King Rat.

Jimmy tweeted: “What a thrill it was to play panto in my adopted home town of Rochdale, at the Gracie Fields Theatre. I ‘d like to thank all my friends and neighbours for supporting their local Theatre.”

The 72-year-old comedian also posted his thanks to everyone involved in the production of the panto, including his “wonderful” fellow cast members.

Jimmy Cricket tweeted his thanks to everyone involved in the panto

A pleasant surprise ahead of Christmas pantomime

 

Jimmy Cricket's December column in the Preston-based Lancashire Post

Jimmy Cricket has revealed his joyful amazement when he discovered the identity of one of his fellow pantomime performers.

The well-known Northern Irish entertainer is currently playing Professor Fitzwarren in Dick Whittington, which is running at the Gracie Fields Theatre until New Year’s Eve in Rochdale where he lives.

The panto also features The Chase’s Mark Labbett (also known as The Beast), who plays King Rat.

Jimmy, 72, says in his December column in the Preston-based Lancashire Post that over the years he has played a lot of shows at a small theatre called the Westcliffe in Clacton-on-Sea in Essex.

“Every now and then, when I would come round to the front of house after the show to say goodnight, there would be a lady called Chrissie Grew with her two sons,” he recalls.

“As the years went by, Chrissie would keep in touch telling me about one of her boys – Danny – who developed a ‘magic act’.

“She would tell me about him taking his first tentative steps into the world of show business. Then her emails would get more exciting as more and more bookings would come in.

“Fast forward to a few months ago and I sign up to play panto in my adopted town of Rochdale this Christmas.

“I arrive to do the publicity launch and guess who’s playing Dick Whittington? You’re absolutely right! Danny! Yes, all those times his mum, Chrissie, took him to see stage shows planted seeds of a flower that has now blossomed.”

Dick Whittington panto details

Jimmy Cricket praises sets for Christmas pantos

Dick WhittingtonJimmy Cricket has praised the sets for the pantos he is appearing in over the festive season.

Famous Northern Irish entertainer Jimmy plays Professor Fitzwarren in Dick Whittington, which opens in his adopted hometown of Rochdale on Friday (22 December).

Ellesmere Port Civic Centre staged the show until Wednesday and Rochdale’s Gracie Fields Theatre will now host it up to New Year’s Eve (22-31 December).

The panto also features The Chase’s Mark Labbett (also known as The Beast), who plays King Rat.

Jimmy tweeted that the sets were “some of the best I have worked with over the years!”.

Dick Whittington panto details

 

Dick Whittington panto opens in Ellesmere Port

All the panto cast members, including Jimmy Cricket, had lunch at The Flying Horse in RochdaleThe pantomime in which Jimmy Cricket is performing this festive season had its first show this weekend.

Famous Northern Irish entertainer Jimmy plays Professor Fitzwarren in that old favourite Dick Whittington in both Ellesmere Port and his adopted hometown of Rochdale.

Ellesmere Port Civic Centre will stage the show until Wednesday (20 December) and Rochdale’s Gracie Fields Theatre from Friday until New Year’s Eve (22-31 December).

The panto will also feature The Chase’s Mark Labbett (also known as The Beast), who plays King Rat.

All the cast members had a pre-panto lunch at The Flying Horse pub restaurant in Rochdale town centre. The venue was the Rochdale, Oldham & Bury pub of the year 2016.

Dick Whittington panto details

Performing alongside The Chase’s Mark Labbett in Dick Whittington panto

panto_dick_whittington

Jimmy Cricket retweeted a social media post about the press launch of the panto in which he will be appearing over the 2017 festive season.

The famous Northern Irish entertainer will be playing Professor Fitzwarren in that old favourite Dick Whittington in both Ellesmere Port and his adopted hometown of Rochdale.

The details for both pantos are below:

Dick Whittington panto details

The panto will also feature The Chase’s Mark Labbett (also known as The Beast and can be seen in the middle of the photo at the top of the page), who will play King Rat.

Ellesmere Port Civic Centre will stage the show from 16 to 20 December and Rochdale’s Gracie Fields Theatre from 22-31 December.

Jimmy’s retweet on the press launch is below:

The tweet about Dick Whittington

Milton wants old pal in audience

Milton Jones talks about his friendship with Jimmy Cricket in the Rochdale Observer
Milton Jones talks about his friendship with fellow comedian Jimmy Cricket in the Rochdale Observer paper

TV comedian Milton Jones is hoping to spot a famous friend in the audience when he performs in Rochdale later this month.

The Rochdale Observer featured an article on Saturday 2 March about the Mock of the Week star appearing at the Gracie Fields Theatre.

Milton mentions that he knows Jimmy and has visited him in Rochdale – he has even popped round for lunch in the past!

They hit it off when they performed on the same bill at the Edinburgh Festival in the late 1990s and the pair have stayed in touch ever since.

And he is looking forward to performing in Belfast-born Jimmy’s adopted home town for the first time.

“I do know Jimmy Cricket and I have visited him a couple of times,” said Milton who is also well-known for his Hawaiian shirts.

Deadpan style of comedy

“He has lived in Rochdale for years, he likes it there and he is always very pleasant. So I think of Rochdale as a friendly place.”

Mock The Week is a BBC Two topical comedy TV panel show hosted by Dara Ó Briain and also featuring Hugh Dennis, Andy Parsons and Chris Addison.

Master of the one-liner Milton has had various shows on BBC Radio 4 and won the Perrier comedy award for best newcomer in 1996.

He tours the UK periodically and is a regular performer at The Comedy Store in London and Manchester.

Milton’s deadpan style of comedy delivers quickfire gags, wordplay and punchlines with gaps for the audience to fill in.

To see Milton Jones at the Gracie Fields Theatre at 8pm on 20 March, contact the box office on 01706 716 689. Tickets cost £20.