Curtain to rise on Hasselhoff’s panto debut


Wimbledon witnesses the pantomime debut of megastar David Hasselhoff tonight


By Will O’Doherty

All eyes will be on New Wimbledon Theatre tonight when pantomime season kicks off with David Hasselhoff’s long-awaited debut as Peter Pan’s dastardly nemesis, Captain Hook.

The Hoff might experience a few butterflies before the curtain rises at 7pm, but the crew will be used to dealing with celebrities a cut or two above the usual panto suspects.

In recent years, Henry Winkler, Happy Days’ Fonzie, and Pamela Anderson among others have come to tread the New Theatre’s boards for the festive period.

Some might have wondered whether it would be possible for promoters First Family Entertainment to trump Anderson but there is no doubting her successor’s credentials.

 “He is a legend!” said the theatre’s Mark Jones.

“From things like Knightrider to Baywatch, he is a global megastar. There’s no diluting it.

“He has been a pleasure to work with, he’s worked so hard.”

It isn’t only The Hoff who has the phones ringing off the hook at the box office.  Also appearing, as a cabin boy named Roger, is lithe, larger-than-life Louie Spence.

Mr Jones said: “Louie is another great guy who’s put everything into it.

“Panto is so gruelling for the crew, they’re away from friends and family for five weeks.  And when the stars give 100% every show it’s brilliant. They’re both dreams to work with.”

Opening night tends to be a quiet affair, with seats taken up by family members of the cast and crew, but only a handful of tickets remain available.

“We appeal to families, older theatre-goers and young professionals too,” said Mr Jones.

“No disrespect to the other pantos in London, we always try and get the biggest stars and generate the biggest hype.

“I grew up watching Pamela and David on Baywatch and if I didn’t work here then I’d certainly buy a ticket to come and see them.

“People dismiss it as the lowest art-form around but we have had the Fonz, CJ and Michael Knight.  We make pantomime cool.”

Peter Pan will run at New Wimbledon Theatre from 10 December 2010 to 16 January 2011, contact the box office on 0844 871 7646

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