Picture: Stewart Davidson

West End singer Darren Day is returning to his Norfolk roots to star in panto at King’s Lynn Corn Exchange.

The veteran performer, who’s enjoyed a long and varied career, is to play the prince in what promises to be a fantastic production of Beauty and the Beast this Christmas.

With 19 pantos under his belt and special links to King’s Lynn, Essex-born Darren will feel right at home on stage.

“My grandfather was in vaudeville and once supported George Fornby,” he said.

“He lived in King’s Lynn and I used to visit him as a kid. He was actually the first person to take me to the theatre.”

The singer, actor and presenter won his first talent show at Norwich Theatre Royal in

1985. His association with Norfolk continued when he landed his first professional job alongside Bradley Walsh on Cromer Pier shortly afterwards.

Having played Captain Hook for two years, Darren said he  was looking forward to playing a “goodie” again.

“Because I have children it’s nice to be doing something where I’m not the baddie or having a go at Peter Pan,” he joked.

“I’m lucky to have the opportunity to do both TV and stage work and I’m loving the opportunity to do this sort of role again.

“It may be my 20th panto, but this is a really special show.” Beauty and the Beast will be the fourth panto staged at the Corn Exchange by Jordan Productions and follows the success of Aladdin starring Todd Carty last year.

Managing director Chris Jordan said: “I’ve seen Darren perform a few times now and he’s always been on my hit-list to get up here and work with us.

“The panto will have traditional elements and an awful lot of magic and comedy.”

Mr Jordan said the team was busy working on an intricate washing-up routine with the characters Dame Derriere and Potty Pierre.

“No word of a lie, we have ordered 2,000 breakable plates and they’re on a container ship coming from Greece,” Mr Jordan said.

“It really will be a smashing panto this year!”

Rising star Joanna Sawyer is to play Belle, Ian Marr will be Dame Derriere and Steven Pinder, famous for his role as Max Farnham in Brookside, will play Belle’s father.

Also joining the cast this year will be KL.FM breakfast show presenter Adam Newstead as Bertrand the Butler.

“I’m incredibly excited,” he said. “At KL.FM we are always looking at ways to do more in the community and there is no bigger project to be involved in at Christmas.”

Adam will be sharing his experiences and all the backstage gossip with his listeners during December.

Mr Jordan added: “We don’t start rehearsals until ten days before the show. These guys work really hard so it’s going to be interesting to get a new perspective on it all. We can promise Adam lots of fun.”

The pantomime, sponsored by J&K Glass and Glazing in association with KL.FM 96.7, is to run from Friday, December 6 to Tuesday, December 31.

There will be matinee and evening shows and a signed performance will be given at 6pm on Saturday, December 28.

Family tickets and school/ group discounts are available.