Clive Rowe bows out of next Hackney Empire panto

Darling dame Clive Rowe will be taking a break from Hackney’s popular pantomime this year, bowing out of preparations for the forthcoming production of ‘Cinderella’.

The Olivier Award nominee, who has now appeared in nine pantomimes at the Hackney Empire, will be taking time out – but not for long.

“He’s our dame and always will be,” said the theatre’s creative director Susie McKenna.

“But there isn’t really a dame in Cinderella and he doesn’t like playing the Ugly Sisters.

“He didn’t do Cinderella when we did it five years ago and he fancies a year off. You’ve got to give the guy a break.”

She said Rowe would be back for Dick Wittington in 2012 and in the meantime, she was in talks with the Hackney Empire’s household names.

“Kat B will be definitely back,” she said.

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“And we have the most beautiful special effects this year - we are reinventing the haunted bedroom and a we will have flying coach. There will be a lot of surprises along the way.”

The news came as the Empire took on a new boss in the role of director of theatre and operations.

Kathleen Hamilton began work at the historic Mare Street theatre on Monday (April 4) while Clarie Middleton was appointed to stay on as chief executive.

Clarie said: “Cinderella is the favourite panto of all time – except for Clive.

“We had our best ever sales last year, with 550,000 people coming to see the show.

“Even if it doesn’t have Clive, our panto this year will be the best Cinderella anybody in London has ever seen.”

Alongside the announcement about this year’s panto will come the launch of a new caf� in the theatre’s old Marie Lloyd Bar.

The Urban Pantry, run by the team behind The Old Ship pub next door, will be open from 7.30am to 7pm, Monday to Friday and on Saturdays from 9am to 7pm.