Jack and the Beanstalk at the Hackney Empire

It looked doubtful this time last year – but Hackney Empire will be up in lights again when its much-loved pantomime opens this week.

After one of the most difficult years in its long history, the theatre’s bosses will be breathing a sigh of relief when the curtain opens on Jack and the Beanstalk on Saturday evening (November 27).

Writer and director Susie McKenna, composer Steven Edis and Hackney’s Olivier Award-nominated pantomime dame Clive Rowe will once again be part of the tried-and-tested team that was behind last year’s smash-hit Aladdin.

And while the money is coming back slowly, the material is certainly there. What with Kate and Wills tying the knot, the X-factor engine gaining pace and government cuts doing their best to ruin everyone’s Christmas, Jack and the gang will be putting the jingle into those bells.

Avenue Q star Jaygann Ayeh will be climbing up the beanstalk while Wicked’s Chloe Taylor stars as Off-Her-Trolly Molly. Clive Rowe will once again by donning the most ridiculous dresses and barmy barnets to playing Dame Daisy, and old favourites Kat B, Tony Whittle and Sharon D Clarke will all be a part of it. Joining them will be the signing harp, the golden hen, the giant of all giants and, not forgetting, Buttercup … the breakdancing cow.

For any doubters out there who think panto is just for screaming kids and D-list celebs – pipe down. You ain’t seen Hackney’s yet.

Jack and the Beanstalk will run at the Hackney Empire in Mare Street, Hackney Central, between December 2 and January 9, with previews starting on November 27. Tickets cost from �9.50 to �24.50, available now online at www.hackneyempire.co.uk or by calling the box office on 02089852424.