The lass with the sass is back: an interview with Leamington panto dame JP McCue

JP, aka Dame Dolly, will be appearing in Jack and the Beanstalk at The Royal Spa Centre from Saturday December 9 to Sunday January 7
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The lass with all the sass returns to Leamington this Christmas, as pantomime royalty JP McCue steps back into Dame Dolly’s sequinned slingbacks in Jack and the Beanstalk at the Royal Spa Centre from Saturday December 9 to Sunday January 7.

We caught up with JP to find out more.

Q: Are you looking forward to bringing Dame Dolly back to Leamington this Christmas?

Leamington panto dame JP McCue, aka Dame Dolly. Picture supplied.Leamington panto dame JP McCue, aka Dame Dolly. Picture supplied.
Leamington panto dame JP McCue, aka Dame Dolly. Picture supplied.

A: “I am! Dame Dolly is back!

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"I love the panto in Leamington, and this year I’m officially co-directing.

"Though I think if you asked anyone who's worked with me before they’d probably say, ‘he directs anyway, even without being asked’.

“I think Jack and the Beanstalk is a great pantomime.

"It’s a very traditional one, but we’re putting a new spin on it.

"It's nice because I’m writing the show with Janice Dunn, so the fact I'm also co-directing this year means I can make sure that we create a show that's very different and very unique for Leamington.

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"We're taking it from a different angle, and having a bit of fun with it.

“It's very exciting.”

Q: Can you let us in on any surprises?

A: I don’t want to give too much away! But I can say I’m thinking of a more modern take on an old, traditional pantomime.

"Maybe the people who you think are typically the villains aren't necessarily the villains this time around.”

Q: So, will we still have someone to boo and hiss?

A: “Of course, there'll be a big baddie to boo.

"There'll be all that, and lots of audience interaction.

"Dame Dolly will probably be looking for a husband again, as usual.

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"I don't know how I end up single at Christmas every year, but there we go! And we're already working on a brand-new slosh scene. Anyone who missed that last year, don’t worry, we're definitely having one this year, and it'll probably be messier than ever.”

Q: Do you enjoy the slosh scene?

A: Yes – is that the right answer?

"I really enjoy the reaction it gets.

"Sometimes, when you've done it for the tenth time that week, you think here we go again, but you soon get energised by the fun of it.”

Q: This will be your 11th pantomime in Leamington. What keeps you coming back each year?

A: “I think what I love about panto is the chaos of it all.

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"The fact that anything can happen at any point, because the audience is different every night.

"And that's what I love about Leamington too.

"You get some audiences who are there because they like story and they like the tradition of it, and then you get some audiences who want to be in the show, who will really want to be part of it.

"The audience is like another character, and that’s the fun, you never know what’s going to happen.

"Especially with an auditorium full of kids.”

Q: And we hear those schools’ performances can be a bit insane?

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A: “It's noise from beginning to end in our schools’ performances! They scream from the minute the show's announced until the curtain comes down.

"And that's a whole different experience.

" I think for people who have never done a panto before – it's a whirlwind.”

Q: It obviously wasn’t a problem for you as you were nominated for Best Dame in the Pantomime Awards. How did that feel?

A: “To be nominated for something like that is phenomenal.

"People are so excited that panto is being recognised, and the Panto Awards are a big deal now.

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“You know, you work hard for those six weeks and it is absolute mayhem.

"Then, you kind of forget about it, because you've done it and you move on.

"And, if you're lucky enough to be back the next year, you start working again.

"So, it’s really great to be recognised for all the hard work that goes into it, and to be up amongst Dames who have been doing it for a long time.

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"I do try to do my best, and for someone to say ‘here's a nomination, we think you’re good too,’ is lovely.”

Q: Now you may be in Jack and the Beanstalk, but if you could have Fairy Godmother grant one wish for you this year, what would it be?

A: “It would be that we have the busiest, most fun, most chaotic panto that we've ever done in Leamington.

"And that I may still have some feeling left in my legs, feet, back, head, just some form of body left at the end of it, that would be my biggest wish.

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Jack and the Beanstalk has all the ingredients for a perfect family panto.

The Trotts are so poor they do not have a bean to their name and what is more there is an evil and greedy giant terrifying the village.

Will they really have to sell Daisy, the family cow just to survive?

Come and see if Jack can defeat the giant, win the heart of the girl he loves and turn the Trotts’ fortunes around.

Tickets can be booked now for this moo-vellous show, which promises to leave everyone aged from four to 104 feeling ‘full of beans’.

Tickets are now on sale at

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