BAFTA-nominated actor and writer Ben Faulks, known to most as Cbeebies’ Mr Bloom in the television show Mr Bloom’s Nursery, is set to star as Idle Jacques in this year’s spectacular all-star family panto Beauty and the Beast at Derby Arena. This year’s Derby LIVE panto is co-produced by Little Wolf Entertainment.

Another headliner is soon to be revealed, but Derby LIVE can also announce today that Ben will be joined by singer and actor Aston Dobson who will play the handsome but not too bright local heartthrob, Gaston in the production – returning by popular demand following his appearance as the Prince in last year’s panto Cinderella.

This year’s panto lead, Ben Faulks, trained at Bretton Hall School of Dance and Drama. Having graduated in Theatre Acting, he moved to Manchester to set out as an actor and writer. After establishing a street theatre company, Ben developed the characters and concept for Mr Bloom's Nursery from an interactive piece he created called The Vegetable Nannies. He approached the BBC’s pre-school television channel CBeebies with his ideas from this show and in 2011 Mr Bloom’s Nursery was transmitted for the first time.

Both the series and Ben have received multiple BAFTA nominations as well as winning an RTS Award. In addition, the character of Mr Bloom has featured in many other BAFTA-award-winning CBeebies-related programmes.

More recently, Ben has also appeared on screen in Spotbots as Pompaloo the Magician & Rock the Merman, CBBC’s Marrying Mum & Dad, as well as performing alongside Adele Silva in Hollyoaks as Mark Brown. Ben has also toured the length and breadth of the country with Mr Bloom’s Nursery Live, a full-blown theatre show.

Also a children’s author, Ben has released two picture books Watch out for Muddy Puddles and What makes me, a me? and he has more children’s stories in the pipeline.

Speaking about his Beauty and the Beast role, Ben said "I’m super excited to be spending panto season in Derby.  I’ve been lucky enough to perform in the city a few times before but never in the Arena, so can’t wait to get started.”

Aston Dobson will join Ben in this year’s Derby Arena panto production.  Aston previously appeared as Prince Charming in Cinderella at the Arena last year and gained great reviews from critics and audiences alike.

Originally from Southampton, Aston trained at the Lincoln College of Performing Arts. Aston’s first full UK tour with his band supported well known artists such as Biffy Clyro, Snow Patrol and Scouting for Girls. In 2005 his debut single And now she’s a Broadway Star charted in the UK Download charts. Aston has also toured all over the world as a member of 'The Twelve Tenors, an international operatic group.

As a solo artist Aston has appeared as a guest artist opening for Nelly Furtado and has also supported other well know acts throughout the years including Andy Williams, Chas & Dave and The Saturdays to name a few. 

An experienced performer, Aston’s theatrical portfolio includes leading musical roles in FAME, Les Miserables, Songs for a New World and Dancing Queen, among others.

Morgan Brind Producer from Little Wolf Entertainment said “We’re thrilled that this year’s production will star Ben Faulks, familiar to many families as his CBeebies character Mr Bloom. We know he is going to be a huge hit with audiences, and we are delighted to welcome Aston Dobson back to Derby.”

More casting for Beauty and the Beast will be announced very shortly. The production will feature shimmering sets, outrageous costumes, magic, mayhem and monstrous fun, this brand new show promises to be the city’s most spectacular panto yet. 

Beauty and the Beast will be on stage at Derby Arena from Tuesday 5 December 2017 until Sunday 31 December 2017, tickets priced from £14.75 with concessions, group, school and family tickets available. Save £2 when you book before 31 Oct, with other savings available. It’s never too early to book for this fantastic festive treat – call the Sales and Information Centre on 01332 255800, pick seats online at derbylive.co.uk, or book in person at the Assembly Rooms, Market Place, Derby.

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