The Grand Opera House’s festive show has entertained generations of families with over 75,000 people attending the Theatre’s panto each year. A huge part of the tradition, the iconic May McFettridge will grace the stage once again for an incredible 29th year in pantomime as Dame May Trot in Jack and the Beanstalk.

Interview by Nadia Duncan

Q) As the Grande Dame of panto what do you think makes a pantomime so special compared to other types of shows?

It’s family entertainment at its very best and is a wonderful way to entertain many different ages and generations at the same time. It’s a chance for everyone to get involved in something joyful and silly. I suppose that’s the magic of panto, with all the glitz, glamour and humour, a special bond is created between the performers and the audience, where everyone is having so much fun all together.

Q) This December you are returning once again to the Grand Opera House stage as Dame May Trot in Jack and the Beanstalk, what surprises can we expect and are you looking forward to working with David Bedella again?

There’s me, Dame Trot, with my husband Farmer Two and the two sons, Simon Trot and Jack Trot, so we’ve got trots everywhere. I’m having to take some lessons this year because I normally make a grand entrance in some amazing vehicle –I’ve had a car, a cow and all sorts before. They’ve promised me something really special this year but I have to take lessons, so I’ve no idea what’s going on. Nobody tells me anything! You’ll have to come to the show to find out! I also really cannot wait for everyone to see the Giant…it really is HUGE! Absolutely, I’m definitely looking forward to working with the wonderful David Bedella again who played Captain Hook in Peter Pan last Christmas and is returning this year as the giant’s henchman, Fleshcreep(he does have two Olivier awards after all – as he keeps reminding me) and also my poor long-suffering husband on stage Paddy Jenkins.

Q) Do you have an all-time favourite panto or panto character and why?

I think my favourite panto is Peter Pan, probably because I really enjoy its storyline. It’s always magical when it comes to life on stage. There are so many great characters in Peter Pan, but what is a pantomime without a villain to boo and hiss at? Captain Hook really is the ultimate villain with incredible stage presence.

Q) You are so busy in December how do you manage to get all your Christmas shopping done and the tree up?

The panto schedule is extremely busy, which doesn’t leave much time for Christmas shopping. Luckily though, my wife Brenda takes care of all the shopping and that means the only present I make sure to get is for her.

Q) How will you be spending Christmas day? Sleeping?

Christmas Day is about relaxing with the family. I’ll make time to have a few festive beverages at the golf club then home for dinner with a glass of wine, but I’m in bed by 7pm because we have two shows the next day. It’s important to get as much rest as possible.

Q) What’s the best Christmas present you have ever received or given someone?

I’m not one for material things as long as everyone is happy. I’m just thankful there’s food on the table and the grandchildren are well.

Catch May in the GIANT spectacular Jack and the Beanstalk: The Pantomime you’ve BEAN waiting for at the Grand Opera House, Belfast, until Sunday 13 January 2019. Doomed to sell the family’s trusty cow, join Jack as he fights to save the beautiful Princess, outwit the evil giant and win the hand of the girl he loves! For information and to book visit

Over 75,000 people attend the Grand Opera House panto each year over the festive season… and there’s a very good reason for that. This year it’s back bigger than ever before with a stomping GIANT of a show that you’d be a mad cow to miss.

The fabulously funny May McFettridge may be stepping onto the stage for an incredible 29thyear of panto in 2018 as Dame May Trot but the jokes never grow old. And, always one for making a spectacular entrance — we won’t spoil the surprise — but this time the special effects team have reached crazy new heights of the wow factor in getting her up that beanstalk!

Double Olivier award-winning David Bedella makes a welcome return as the evil giant’s henchman, Fleshcreep (he’s so bad he’s good) and there’s plenty of homegrown talent too with Belfast’s own Paddy Jenkins as May’s poor (and we’re not talking about money) husband Farmer Trot. Including our hero of the story, Jack Trot, with all those Trots about expect plenty of humour on the sort of topics that kids just find hilarious, but you can also throw these magic ingredients into the pot for a recipe that makes this panto one to remember forever — a huge dollop of eerily lifelike and scary giants, lots of splashes of saucy fun, a big bellyful of laughter (not just from the audience), a dash of the unexpected with a surprise treat performance and sprinkled throughout with glorious singing and dancing — just don’t forget to floss after consuming!

Jack and the Beanstalk is a golden goose of a pantomime for ages 3 to 103 and only The Grinch could leave the Theatre not filled with as much joy and Christmas spirit as Buddy the Elf.

Ellen Greene

Author: Ellen Greene

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