Rapper playing to full houses at Central Theatre, Chatham, in Peter Pan

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Vanilla Ice has proved to be a red hot panto hit playing Captain Hook in Medway’s Central Theatre.

Seats are “substantially” fuller than almost any other year, more even than for Star Trek star George Takei and the last top act to appear in Chatham, Joe Swash, fresh from winning I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here.

The Ice Ice Baby rapper is on stage with CBeebies star Katy Ashworth who takes the lead role in Peter Pan.

from Kent family firm Evolution Pantomimes is staging the show, and spokesman Tony Hill said: “Peter Pan with Vanilla Ice is going extremely well, both in terms of creativity and the box office.

“That box office is substantially up on last year and is on the coat-tails of the year we had Joe Swash.

“It has been going really, really well. Vanilla is beating Takei in popularity. We have been playing to full houses and many of the other performances are running at around 90 to 95 per cent capacity.

“Once the schools finish, things will really get busy because families will be turning out all together. We are looking forward to many full houses.

“By the time the run ends, we should have over 30,000 people through the doors. Listening to some of those in the audiences, we are getting people rebooking quite a lot.

“Vanilla Ice does his big number in the show and that always gets everyone on their feet. You hear them talking about that when they leave, it’s great.

“They say they want to come back and see it all again, sometimes just for that one song. It’s a magnificent moment that everyone seems to really enjoy and are just loving it.

“He is quite a performer. He has not done panto before – it’s not something they know in the States.

“But he has come over and learned very quickly and did a bit of homework before he arrived by watching some videos we sent him.

“And he is taking direction really well. He is on stage with a lot of panto professionals and that gives you a real feeling of support and encouragement. He has really gone for it and made it his own, he’s a lovely character and people are thrilled to work with him.

“He will be hard act to follow.”

Before he took to the stage as the evil Captain Hook, Robert Van Winkle said: “I’d never even heard of a pantomime before. I thought ‘what the heck is this?’ but it’s so much fun.

“I’m there for the kids but there may be some parents who come along who remember the Ice Ice Baby time.”

He added: “I love it here in England. It’s something about the people. They’re more witty and have a laugh at things.”

The panto runs until Saturday, December 31, and you can book on 01634 338338.

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