Over the festive season, JJ Hamblett will be appearing in the Tyne Theatre & Opera House pantomime Beauty and the Beast as the Prince/Beast, with the show set to open 9th December and running until 8th January 2023. In 2012, JJ and his boyband Union J were contestants on Series 9 of The X Factor, where they finished fourth, and this year, the band reunited for their 10th Anniversary and played a sold-out show at the London Palladium. JJ, along with Union J members Josh Cuthbert, Jaymi Hensley and George Shelley, will soon be announcing their UK tour for next year. We caught up with JJ ahead of opening in the pantomime about playing the Prince/Beast in Beauty and the Beast at Tyne Theatre & Opera House, performing in the show over the festive season and reuniting with Union J this year for their 10th Anniversary.
In the Tyne Theatre & Opera House pantomime Beauty and the Beast, you will be playing the Prince/Beast, is there anything you’re looking forward to most for the run this Christmas?
I think playing the Beast is going to be really fun, and I love performing in Newcastle as the crowd are always really responsive. I am also excited to meet all the cast, I heard they are really nice and super talented. It’s going to be fun!
Having previously performed in pantomimes, how do you find the experience of interacting with a family audience?
I love it, everyone is always up for a laugh when they watch a pantomime. I can’t wait!
What do you feel you will bring to the character and what can audiences expect from your portrayal of the Prince/Beast?
I’m excited to play around with the character and try to portray the Beast as best as possible. It’s nice to play a character that is scary yet deep down charming.
How is it learning a pantomime script and getting ready for opening in the show?
It can be stressful at times trying to remember the script but once we start rehearsals and you put the scenes in place it comes to me a lot quicker. I actually do a thing now that I write down the first letter of each word in the script and remember my lines that way.
Do you have a favourite aspect of being part of a pantomime cast over the festive season?
I love meeting new people and visiting different cities around the UK at Christmas. I heard Newcastle is extra special at Christmas so I’m looking forward to spending my time there.
Why would you recommend booking tickets to see Beauty and the Beast, which opens December 9th and runs until January 8th at Tyne Theatre & Opera House?
Not only have I heard the cast are super talented and the venue is beautiful, but who wouldn’t want to watch the best panto the city has to offer at Christmas. Beauty and the Beast is special and I believe this show will be great.
Your music group Union J reunited this year for your 10th Anniversary, which saw you sell-out the London Palladium, how did it feel reuniting with Josh Cuthbert, Jaymi Hensley and George Shelley?
It was amazing, and to do the show at such an iconic venue was special. I love being on stage and performing and to do it with the boys again was amazing.
What was it like performing at the Palladium and seeing the fan response to the announcement?
It was incredible, to see all the fans that have supported us over the years all together for a one-off show was a night to remember.
Since Union J appeared on The X Factor in 2012, what are some of your stand-out memories from being a member of the group?
There have been so many, I guess it would be performing twice to 88 thousand people at Wembley Stadium at the Summertime Ball.
Had you always known you wanted to be a performer and how did you start?
I have always loved singing and performing, I guess it had always been a dream when I was growing up but never thought I would get to do it as a career so to be able to is amazing.
What are some of your favourite music artists to listen to and how do you like to spend your free time?
I have so many artists and genres I like from Einaudi to Frank Sinatra and classic, piano to pop. I love all music.
Do you have any upcoming plans that you can tell us about and what are you hoping the upcoming year brings for you?
Union J are about to announce the UK tour VERY SOON which starts in 2023 (I can’t say when it will be but it’s soon).
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