Scarlett Moffatt and Cinderella cast limber up for this year's panto spectacular at Sunderland Empire

She usually spends the build up to Christmas down under presenting I’m A Celebrity Extra Camp, but this year Scarlett Moffatt says she’s enjoying the festivities in Sunderland instead.

Friday, 6th December 2019, 11:45 am
Updated Friday, 6th December 2019, 4:20 pm

“I haven’t had the Christmas period at home in three years,” says the presenter. “I’m normally in the sunshine, but it’s difficult to get in the Christmas spirit when it’s hot, turkey on the beach just isn’t the same.”

Scarlett, who rose to fame on Gogglebox before winning I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here, and then landing a job presenting the Extra Camp spin off, chose to spend Christmas in her native North East this year and asked Sunderland Empire, where she’s a regular theatre-goer, if she could be in their panto.

Panto bosses jumped at the chance and Scarlett is now gearing up to sprinkle some festive magic over Wearside as the Fairy Godmother in Cinderella.

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Sunderland Empire Cinderella panto cast rehearsals with Jon Moses as Prince Charming, Scarlett Moffatt as Fairy Godmother, Gemma Naylor as Cinderella and Jimmy Johnston as Baron Hardup/Director

Ahead of the show’s opening on December 13, the cast have been rehearsing daily at Kathleen Davis School of Dance in High Street West.

Scarlett said: “It was a bit like the first day of school when we all started rehearsing. I was really nervous, but we all gelled straight away. Me and my family are big panto fans, but this is my first time actually being in a panto. It’s like doing live TV and the best part of panto is when it goes wrong, so I’m not too worried. If in doubt, I’m just going to spin.”

She added: “I’m still in my 20s, which is quite young to be playing the Fairy Godmother. But my character isn’t your typical fairy. She’s very sarcastic, but she’s got a fairy heart.”

Scarlett appears alongside East Durham-born Jon Moses, from ITV’s Superstar, as Prince Charming, and Nick Jnr’s Gemma Naylor, from Go! Go! Go!, as Cinderella.

Sunderland Empire Cinderella panto cast limbering up for opening night

Speaking about what people can expect from the panto, Jon said: “It’s such a good show, it’s like half panto, half musical theatre. It’s got something for everyone really: all the latest pop songs, modern jokes, old jokes.

“The first pantomime I ever saw was at the Empire when I was a kid, so it feels extra special to be in the pantomime here. I remember sitting in the Moti Raj with my parents and looking out of the window at the Empire wishing I could appear on stage there – and 20 years later I am.”

Donning the famous glass slippers will be Gemma. She said: “It’s such a magical part and I feel a responsibility because she’s so beloved, so they’re big shoes to fill.

“I thinks she’s a good role model too, as she shows that kindness will be rewarded.”

Sunderland Empire Cinderella panto cast rehearsals with Scarlett Moffatt as Fairy Godmother

*Cinderella will be at Sunderland Empire from December 13 to January 5. Tickets here.

Sunderland Empire Cinderella panto cast rehearsals with Gemma Naylor as Cinderella, ugly sisters Duncan Burt as Ruby Hardup and Miss Rory as Rorina Hardup
Sunderland Empire Cinderella panto cast rehearsals. Gemma Naylor plays Cinderella.