Thousands of people were all smiles at Wolverhampton’s Christmas lights switch-on spectacular – as panto star Joe Pasquale declared that Midlands audiences were among his favourites because of their laughter.
The comedian joined children’s entertainer Mike the Knight and his sister Eve, and the Mayor of Wolverhampton Councillor Milkinder Jaspal to push the button for the lights to come on last night(wed).
As well as switching on the festive lights he is in town as rehearsals get under way for The Grand Theatre’s all-star panto production of Sleeping Beauty.
“I love coming up to Wolverhampton, I always get a good crowd up here. They give a better reaction to the humour than people in the south.
“In London they will say ‘that’s quite funny’, but won’t laugh, but up here in the Midlands people show that they are enjoying the show by laughing out loud and letting it all out which is great.
“You really like a great laugh up here. I love coming up.
“I did my stand up show in Cannock not so long ago which went really well,” Joe says.
He told the crowd that he was looking forward to seeing them all at the panto which opens at the Lichfield Street theatre on December 7 when he will take on the role of Muddles.
“This is the fifth year that I’ve done this show so I’m ready to go. We’ve been rehearsing for two days so far, but I’ve been watching everybody else do their thing. It’s going well so far and I’m enjoying it, but it’s a long ride home to Kent afterwards on the train.
“I like to change up what I do and say for the panto performance. I like to come with something fresh for each show.”
He added that he will be performing in a new comedy series on ITV in the new year, but that the details were under wraps for now.
Delighted families were also treated to a spectacular firework display and music supplied by Free Radio.
While the mayor Councillor Jaspal told the crowd: “We have a lot of excellent facilities and shops in Wolverhampton, please use them.”
Other guests included Wolves wingers Michael Jacobs and James Henry, and group R3action, of Coventry.
Visitors were also entertained by comedy duo Phillippe- Phillippo who performed juggling routines on stilts in Market Square much to the delight of the children in the huge crowd.
There were also with mini fairground rides and a vintage organ in operation.
Other street entertainment included carol singing, in Victoria Street, led by The Howling Wolves Choir based at the city’s Newhampton Arts Centre.
Dinner lady Sonia Lawley, aged 53, of Bushbury Hill, Bushbury, said: “It’s been fantastic. We’ve really enjoyed it. The council have pulled out the stops.”
Care assistant Teresa Jones, aged 36, of All Saints Road, All Saints, was at the event with her daughter Megan, aged two, and her nieces: “The switch-on has been great. My daughter Megan really enjoyed Mike the Knight.”
Student Paige Streeter, aged 19, of East Road, Bushbury, said: “I’m loving it. The lights and fireworks were really good.”
Full-time mother Marie Cureton, aged 28, of Second Avenue, Low Hill, said: “The fireworks were brilliant. The children have had a good time and we saw Joe Pasquale which was a bonus.”