Broadway To Vegas



Copyright: December 17, 2006
By: Laura Deni


Running with scissors has never looked so good as in this Matthew Bourne's dance musical adaptation of Tim Burton’s film Edward Scissorhands is currently being staged at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles through December 31.

An inventor begins to create a boy, but dies before completing the project. The boy has only scissors for hands and must adapt to suburban life after being discovered living alone in a house, he falls in love with the daughter of the suburban family who has taken him in.

An unusual property, director/choreographer Bourne is definitely the ideal right brained thinker for the job.

Seeped in fearless creativity, Bourne is the one who gave us the male version of Swan Lake.

Edward Scissorhands is a marvelous, entertaining production - a delight for the senses in this holiday or any other season.

With brilliant sets and costumes designed by Lez Brotherston this is not the film version. While the Broadway production of Mary Poppins has been criticized for being too dark - even scaring some children - Edward Scissorhands is a pastel pleasure.

This is no easy accomplishment. Richard Winsor alternates with Sam Archer as Edward in a role that demands tightrope finesse of acting and athletic prowess coupled with the challenge of mastering wicked looking 20-inch plastic blades attached to brass spring-loaded gloves.

Archer and Winsor go through several pairs in a performance.

Sam Archer and Kerry Biggin in Edward Scissorhands
Despite the fact that the scissors aren't as dangerous as they look, during rehearsals, the girls who played young heroine Kim wore goggles for fear of getting their eyes poked out, but discovered they couldn't see what they were doing.

Music and arrangements by Terry Davies, including themes from the original motion picture by Danny Elfman; the ballet segments - such as dancing topiary trees - are wondrous.

Vulnerable, delightful, magical and stunning Edward Scissorhands, the Lighting Design is by Howard Harrison and Sound Design by Paul Groothuis.

Since not a word is spoken, this is an ideal production for those who do not understand English or for those who are seriously hearing impaired. It is also captivating experience for anybody.


The cast includes; Scott Ambler, Sam Archer, Kerry Biggin, Madelaine Brennan, Ross Carpenter, Gareth Charlton, Andrew Corbett, Gavin Eden, Adam Galbraith, Sophia Dominique Hurdley, Steve Kirkham, Dena Lague, Rachel Lancaster, James Leece, Matthew Malthouse, Drew McOnie, Michela Meazza, Ebony Molina, Rachel Morrow, Etta Murfitt, Luke Murphy, Gemma Payne, Jake Samuels, Mikah Smillie, Mami Tomotani, Hannah Vassallo, Shaun Walters, Shelby Williams, Philip Willingham, Chloe Wilkinson and Richard Winsor.


Plaid Tidings the holiday offshoot of the delightfully funny Forever Plaid is being staged for the second year in Sin City. This could be the last year for the seasonal production. Forever Plaid will end it's earthly romp in Las Vegas in a few months, leaving a hole in the already narrow, medium-priced Vegas entertainment scene.

The inventive musical comedy written in New York in 1990 is now performed internationally. First performed on April 22, 1990 at the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center in Charlotte, N.C. the campy fun fest has had many Sin City incarnations having moved to the Gold Coast Hotel from the Flamingo Resort. Plaid Tidings was first produced at The Pasadena Playhouse and has become an annual event at numerous venues.

During it's Vegas run the Plaid cast has become an integral part of the community. On Friday the Plaids were at KLAS-TV, the local CBS affiliate, to help with the Toys for Tots drive. Between yesterday's matinee and evening performances the Plaidsters raced over to participate in an event for Opportunity Village, an organization which is the backbone for helping the mentally challenged in Las Vegas.

In some ways the Forever Plaid production has been kinder to Las Vegas than the population has been to them. With the advent of mega productions locals and tourists now spend on one ticket an amount which, only a short time ago, would have enabled them to see two or three ordinary shows.

Being lodged off the Strip at the Gold Coast wouldn't be a road block to ticket sales except the adjacent properties - the Rio which features Prince with his own night club and The Palms which specialized in young nubile things - draws a younger crowd than customarily frequents Plaid performances.

The Vegas Plaid Tidings is different from what is mounted in other cities. The joyful holiday offering has a 90-minute Vegas version as compared to a two-hour show staged elsewhere. "So people can get into the casino," producer Richard Martini told Broadway To Vegas.

Martini falls into the savvy, energetic and creative genre who not only knows when to fold 'em but when to change things.

He is also one of the producers behind All Shook Up the Elvis Presley jukebox musical which never scored on Broadway. Currently on tour starring Las Vegas resident Susan Anton, this is not your Broadway version.

Martini related that the book has been re-written and musical numbers switched around. He was basking in the glow of favorable reviews out of Seattle.

As for Plaid Tidings, the Vegas version has a delightful pre-show in audience magician - Jason Andrews - who table hops performing close up magic. He didn't double my money, but he did astound with two coin tricks. When it's showtime producer Martini works his own magic and turns Andrews into the man in charge of the lighting board.

Original cast CD released in 2003
In Plaid Tidings the truly eternal teenagers, Sparky, Smudge, Jinx, and Frankie, continue their supernatural saga returning from the afterlife - again - to play their very own Christmas special. Seamlessly transferred from Forever Plaid into this production is the hilarious two-minute history of the Ed Sullivan Show and back-up vocals for a video-projected Perry Como Christmas Show. There is also a hilarious segment regarding troublesome psychological problems from singing Christmas carols such as Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer and Frosty The Snowman.

While audiences for any of the Plaid shows tend to skew older, Plaid Tidings is a delightful holiday show for the entire family. In the Gold Coast Hotel audience were children from about age 10 all the way up to a very perky lady celebrating her 90th birthday.

Plaid Tidings can be enjoyed at the Gold Coast in Las Vegas through December 31. Other productions include a staging at the La Mirade Theatre in La Mirada, CA through December.31. Also, December 19-23 at The Little Theatre on the Square in Sullivan Illinois. Since 1957, The Little Theatre On The Square has been bringing Broadway quality theatre to the heart of Central Illinois. Founded by Guy S. Little Jr., The Little Theatre is the only professional producing Equity theatre between Chicago and St. Louis. 2007 will mark the 50th Anniversary of The Little Theatre On The Square.


A white carnation Mama Polar Bear watches visitors enter the Bellagio Botanical Garden. Photo by Laura Deni
The Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas has turned their Conservatory and Botanical Gardens into a winter wonderland that is a fantasy to behold.

Visitors are greeted by the family of white polar bears.

Richard, whose background is in floral design, related that the three bears are composed of 35,000 hand picked, white carnations.

He arrives for work a about 4 a.m. "because there are fewer people around," and spends the entire day creating and maintaining.

Every two weeks, each flower is replaced by expert horticulturalists. That means a staff of 129 are required to design and maintain the elaborate creations; 24 people daily feed, water and replace any plants where necessary.

Floral craftsman Richard trims white carnations. Photo by Laura Deni
Baby bear is about to get his bald spots covered with more white carnations. Photo by; Laura Deni
Flowers for the Bellagio Conservatory are imported from all across North America and before being turned into jaw drooping creations are stored in a 27,000-square-foot on-site greenhouse which serves as a staging area.

Executive Director of Horticulture Audra Danzak helms the conservatory masterpieces.

The artistic canvas is a 55-foot-tall glass ceiling covering approximately 14,000 square feet.

The hotel artisans change the themes every few months to showcase Chinese New Year, Spring Celebration, Summer Garden Party, Harvest Show and the current Holiday Show.

"There are 5,000 poinsettias surrounding the cranberries," he said pointing to the water bog which contains over nearly a half million Ocean Spray cranberries weighing over 2,000 pounds.

Santa's reindeer are created from nuts. Photo by Laura Deni
The Bellagio cranberry bog contains 2,000 pounds of the red fruit. Photo by; Laura Deni
In the middle of the Botanical Garden stands a giant forty-five foot Shasta Fir Christmas tree.

There are four gold-leafed rose topiaries composed of over 1,000 fresh roses. On the tree are amazing silver, red and pink ornaments - some nearly twenty feet in length - and blazing candles providing an antique look.

Santa's reindeer, created from nuts, fly over the icy spectacle.

The exhibit, free to the public, is on display at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas until January 4.

Across the pond the Victoria & Albert Museum in London a Christmas tree designed by British fashion and homeware designer Jasper Conran.

Papa Bear at the Bellagio Gardens waving a Beary Happy Holiday greeting to everyone. Photo by Laura Deni
The tree is a focal point for the Bellagio Holiday Show. Photo by; Laura Deni
The tree is decorated with 1000 crystal drops donated by Waterford Crystal and is lit with emerald and aquamarine lights - the colors of Jasper Conran's much acclaimed Chinoiserie fine bone china range at Wedgewood. It is on display until January 6 2007.

Each year since 1947, a Christmas tree has been given to the people of London from the people of Norway in gratitude for Britain's support for Norway during World War II. Marking the 60th year of this tradition, this year the tree was lit on December 7 by HRH Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway in the presence of HRH Crown Prince Haakon of Norway, the Mayor of Oslo and the Mayor of Westminster. The lighting ceremony included carols sung by the Choir of St Martin-in-the-Fields and the renowned Norwegian boys choir Sølvguttene (Boys of Silver).

The tree is usually a Norwegian spruce (Picea abies) over 70 feet high and 50 to 60 years old. It is selected from the forests surrounding Oslo with great care several months, even years, in advance. The Norwegian foresters who look after it describe it fondly as 'the queen of the forest'. The tree is felled in November during a ceremony in which the Lord Mayor of Westminster, the British ambassador to Norway and the Mayor of Oslo participate.

It is brought to London by sea, then to Trafalgar Square by truck. A specialist rigging team erect it in the square using a hydraulic crane. It is decorated in traditional Norwegian fashion, with vertical strings of lights - energy-efficient light bulbs are used. The tree remains in Trafalgar Square until January 6, the Twelfth Night of Christmas, when it is taken down for recycling. The tree is chipped and composted, to make mulch.

Not all has been holly jolly. The tree us generally the subject of much debate. Last year, London radio station, Capital FM, felt that the tree just wasn't up to par and sent a letter to the Mayor of Oslo requesting he try harder this year.


No fewer than six projects developed through the Sundance Institute's Theatre Program are appearing on stages in New York, LA, and across the country, with two others set to open in the coming months. From Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater's rock musical Spring Awakening at Broadway's Euguene O'Neill Theatre to Jessica Haggedorn’s Dogeaters at the Center Theatre Group in L.A., these shows illustrate the range of work the Theatre Program supports through its three annual Labs.

At the Theatre Lab at White Oak in 2005, Doug Wright, Scott Frankel, and Michael Korie collaborated to develop the musical Grey Gardens based on the Maysles brothers’ famed documentary film. It continues its Broadway run at the Walker Kerr Theatre.

Developed over the course of two years at the Theatre Lab (2004 – 2005) Passing Strange was written by Stew and is directed by Annie Dorsen in collaboration with Heidi Rodewald. The musical played at the Berkely Repertory Theatre through Dec. 3 and moves to the Public Theater in New York in Jan., 2007.

At the Theatre Lab in 2002, Craig Lucas and Adam Guettel joined forces to develop the Tony Award-winning The Light in the Piazza, which is currently touring the country after an extended run at Lincoln Center. The musical played at L.A.’s Ahmanson Theatre through Dec. 10 before traveling to Washington, D.C. opening on Dec. 19.

The rock musical Spring Awakening was developed at the Theatre Lab in 2000 by Steven Sater and Duncan Sheik. Spring Awakening opened Dec. 10 on Broadway at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre.

Developed at the 2003 Theatre Lab by Mabou Mines, A Doll House ran through December 10 at UCLA Live in Los Angeles.

Jessica Hagedorn’s Dogeaters was developed at the Theatre Lab in 1997. It opens January 14 and runs through Feb. 11 at the Center Theatre Group in Los Angeles.

Taking Flight developed at the 2005 Theatre Lab by solo artist Adriana Sevan shares the bill with Roger Guenveur Smith in Two Cities, Two Voices: The Watts Towers Project, playing January 17-21 at Los Angeles Theatre Works. San Diego Repertory Theatre then hosts Taking Flight March 14 - April 1.

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On Tuesday, December 26, the historic State Theatre in New Brunswick, N.J., celebrates its 85th Anniversary with a reenactment of the December 26, 1921 opening day matinee performance that started it all.

In the spirit of the 20s, the 85th Anniversary celebration will feature a screening of the original matinee feature 1921 silent film White Oak, starring William S. Hart. As in the original screening, there will be organ accompaniment, provided Dennis James, who has been performing for films with orchestras since 1971 throughout the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and Europe,. He is renowned for providing the most comprehensive selection of authentic silent films with live music presentations available today.

As at the original matinee, there will be a variety of vaudeville performers including: visual comedian Peter Geist, Project Dynamite jugglers; rope tricks by Chris McDaniel, and song and dance man and MC for the day, Richard Stillman.

Rather than charging admission, the theater is sponsoring a food drive to benefit the Middlesex County’s Emergency Food Distribution Network (MCFOODS), serving over 60 local food pantries and soup kitchens. Each patron is asked to bring at least one non-perishable food item to gain admission

According to State Theatre President and CEO Wesley O. Brustad, the matinee celebration is intended as a community event. “This matinee is our birthday gift to all our friends, neighbors, and patrons who have brought the theater so far,” he declared. “It’s going to be a great party.”

White Oak tells the story of gambler Oak Miller, played by the Western matinee idol of the silent screen, William S. Hart. Miller seeks revenge on the man who misused his sister Rose, who is ill and under the care of the woman Miller loves. Throughout the movie, Miller seeks revenge on the villain (Alexander Gaden) who ravished Miller’s sister (Helen Holly). The brute also attempts to, as an inter title puts it, "possess" the gambler's sweetheart (Vola Vale) and, still not satisfied, lecherously pursues the daughter of his partner-in-crime, an Indian chief (Standing Bear). Hart, known as the first screen cowboy, became famous with movies such as the 1917 film The Narrow Trail and the 1925 film Tumbleweeds.. White Oak, which was written by Hart, was directed by the great Lambert Hillyer, who directed over 150 movies in his lifetime.


THE CHARITIES FAVORED BY THE LATE PRINCESS DIANA will benefit from a concert July 1, 2007 at Wembley Stadium in London according to her sons ,the Princes William and Harry. Last Tuesday they announced the pop concert and memorial service to mark the 46th birthday of their mother and the tenth anniversary of her death.

The concert will feature music from the band Duran Duran, Elton John, Joss Stone, Pharrell Williams and Bryan Ferry, a performance by the English National Ballet and songs by Andrew Lloyd Webber.

The memorial service will take place at an undisclosed location in London on Aug. 31. Members of the royal family, including Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip, Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, as well as Princess Diana's siblings are expected to attend.

"We both wanted to put our stamp on it. We want it to represent exactly what our mother would have wanted," Prince William said in a statement. "So therefore the church service alone isn't enough. We wanted to have this big concert full of energy, full of the sort of fun and happiness, which I know she would have wanted."


SISTER ACT THE MUSICAL starring Dawnn Lewis with music by Alan Menken has become the highest selling production in the history of the Pasadena Playhouse, topping the unprecedented success of August Wilson’s Fences.

At the time of the accounting Sister Act the ticket sales record of $1,062,801 that was set just months prior with Fences, starring Laurence Fishburne and Angela Bassett, was surpassed $1,085,929, with three weeks of performances remaining in the current run.

The production plays at the Pasadena Playhouse in Pasadena, CA through December 23rd.


wrote A Christmas Carol in a six-week flurry of activity, beginning in October 1843 and ending in time for Christmas publication.

He had the manuscript bound in red morocco as a gift for Thomas Mitton, his solicitor.

It passed through several owners before Pierpont Morgan acquired it during the 1890s.

The Morgan Library in Manhattan also holds the manuscripts of two of Dickens's later Christmas books, The Cricket on the Hearth and The Battle of Life, neither of which achieved the popularity of A Christmas Carol.

On view through Jan. 7 is the original manuscript of A Christmas Carol which can be viewed at The Morgan Library in New York City.


The half time show during the Super Bowl receives almost as much attention as the game - thanks in part to Janet Jackson’s breast-baring “wardrobe malfunction” in 2004 which led to sharply higher fines for broadcast indecency. That was followed by the Rolling Stones getting bleeped a few times during their three-song set, much to their annoyance.

This year Las Vegas resident Prince, who headlines his own 3121 club, at the Rio Hotel in Sin City, will headline the halftime extravaganza at the February 4 showdown, which takes place in Miami.

It’s unlikely Prince, a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer will have problems since he's become a Jehovah’s Witness and disavowed the kinkier tunes that make up a hefty chunk of his catalog.

Piano Man Billy Joel will sing the National Anthem getting off the field just in time to start his own tour Feb. 7 at the Jacksonville (Fla.) Arena.

The Super Bowl, to be televised by CBS, is annually television’s highest-rated attraction.


HIGH FIDELITY based on the novel by Nick Hornby and the film of the same name. Tom Kitt penned the music, Amanda Green the lyrics and David Lindsay-Abaire the libretto. Walter Bobbie directed a cast that includes Will Chase and Jenn Colella. The show which opened December 7 at the Imperial Theatre in NYC will close on December 17 following 18 previews and 14 regular performances.

with music by Jerry Bock, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, and a book by Bock and Harnick. The musical is based on The Diary of Adam and Eve by Mark Twain which is the longest of the playlets, The Lady of the Tiger? by Frank R. Stockton, and Passionella by Jules Feiffer with additional book material by Jerome Coopersmith, about a chimney sweep who dreams of being a gorgeous movie star.

Starring in the three part musical is Kristin Chenoweth as Eve, Princess Barbara, and Ella; Brian d'Arcy James as Adam, Sanjar, and Flip; Marc Kudisch as Snake; and Walter Charles as King Aril, Employer, and Producer.

The ensemble features Meggie Nicole Cansler, Julie Connors, Sarah Jane Everman, Jennifer Taylor Farrell, Justin Keyes, Lorin Lataro, Mike McGowan, Sean Palmer, Dennis Stowe, and Eric Santagata.

The creative team includes direction by Gary Griffin, choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler, set design by John Lee Beatty, costume design by Jess Goldstein, lighting design by Donald Holder, and sound design by Dan Moses Schreier.

The musical - a unique evening of three one-act musicals about men, women and a little thing called temptation, - premiered on Broadway on October 18, 1966 at the Shubert Theater starring Alan Alda and Barbara Harris with direction by Mike Nichols. This version is based on the 2005 Encores! production of the musical which co-starred Malcolm Gets and Michael Cerveris.

Set for a limited run through March 11, 2007, the first preview of was delayed because Kristin Chenoweth was injured when she fell of an elevated section of the stage during a technical rehearsal. Despite the injury she continued to rehearse and sought medical attention afterwards. Look for the upcoming theatrical awards' season to find show stealing Kristin Chenoweth, Brian d'Arcy James, and Marc Kudisch raking in nominations.

Presented by The Roundabout Theatre Company, the show officially opened Thursday, December 14 at Studio 54 in Manhattan.

THE PRODUCERS welcomes Tony Danza as he steps into the role of Max Bialystock for a limited engagement beginning on December 19. Playing opposite Danza in the role of Leo Bloom will be Roger Bart, who won a Tony Award playing the flamboyant Carmen Ghia in the original cast.

Based on a Romanian folktale. Music by Jonathan Dove. Words by Alasdair Middleton.

When you’re a princess you expect a fairytale wedding. You don’t expect your husband to be hairy, smelly and a genuine pig. The pig, of course, is an enchanted prince but Flora loses him almost as soon as she finds him. Taking her fate into her own hands, she ventures to the ends of the earth and even into the sky until at last she frees him from the evil spell that binds him.

Director: John Fulljames; Producer: A Young Vic & The Opera Group co-production; Designer: Dick Bird; Choreographer: Philippe Giradeau; Lighting Designer: Paul Anderson

Through January 27 at the Young Vic in London.

THE MERMAID Cirkus Cirkor and Kaleidoskop's presentation makes its UK debut.

Two of the great creative forces of the Scandinavian stage have come together to present The Mermaid. The Danish theatre company Kaleidoskop creates provocative and visually arresting performances, while Swedish company Cirkus Cirkör is a leader in innovative contemporary circus.

If you only know the story of The Mermaid from Disney, then prepare yourself. Hans Christian Andersen's beautiful original is far more intense and far darker. It's a story of desperate love, pain and sacrifice.

Two of the great creative forces of the Scandinavian stage have come together to present The Mermaid. The Danish theatre company Kaleidoskop creates provocative and visually arresting performances, while Swedish company Cirkus Cirkör is a leader in innovative contemporary circus.

The staging creates an atmosphere as dreamlike, dramatic and occasionally as menacing as Andersen's original fable. Performers use ropes, trampolines and acrobatics to propel themselves through the sea and into the sky. Bold lighting effects, textured video projection and choreographed movement take you from the mysterious underwater world to the streets of Copenhagen.

Take your seats for a physical, visual and auditory experience, a bridge between the world we experience and our notions of the unknown.

Opens December 23 with performances through January 7 at the South Bank Centre in London.

THE FOURTH WISE MAN by Kathleen Gaffney & Tom Fontana. adapted from the teleplay by Tom Fontana. Directed by Christopher Eaves.

Artaban, a prominent magi, sells his fortune and sets off with his wise-cracking servant to find the Messiah. Carrying three precious gifts for the baby Jesus, Artaban searches for 33 years, missing Him at every turn. Along the way he uses his gifts to help people in need, until he has nothing left to offer but the greatest gift of all. This deeply moving story, based on the 19th century parable, examines the meaning of true faith.

Production runs through December 23 at Studio Arena Stage in Buffalo, NY.


OPERA AUSTRALIA'S CHRISTMAS AT THE HOUSE from traditional carols to popular seasonal classics, this is truly a concert for the whole family. David Hobson returns in this fun-filled festive event which stars Yvonne Kenny. The outstanding cast also features Catherine Carby, Henry Choo, Taryn Fiebig and Opera Australia's Christmas Orchestra and Choir conducted by Andrew Greene.

Hear all your favorites – with a selection of much-loved Christmas tales to complete the festive scene. Join host Simon Burke and celebrate the spirit of the season. December 20-23. Opera Australia at the Sydney Opera House in Syndey, Australia.

MANNHEIM STEAMROLLER performs Monday, December 16 at Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates, IL. On Wednesday they are on stage at the Wolstein Center at CSU in Cleveland. Friday the show is at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus, OH.

RENEE FLEMING back by the Orchestra of St. Luke’s with Daniel Beckwith conducting Handel’s Overture to Saul and Rejoice Greatly from Messiah, Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, Mozart's Laudamus Te from the Mass in C, Schubert’s Ave Maria, Adam’s O Holy Night and other works. Thursday, December 21, Carnegie Hall in NYC.

THE OAK RIDGE BOYS perform Wednesday, December 20 at Pershing Auditorium in Lincoln, NE. On Thursday they are on stage at the Community Center in Bartlesville, OK and on Friday the performance takes place at the Memorial Auditorium in Wichita Falls, TX.

JIM BRICKMAN entertains Tuesday, December 19 at Ovens Auditorium in Charlotte, NC. Wednesday finds him in Columbia, SC. On Thursday he can be enjoyed at the BJCC Concert Hall in Birmingham, AL. Friday the show takes place at the Louisville Palace Theatre in Louisville, KY. On Saturday he is center stage at the Detroit Orchestra Hall in Detroit, MI.

COOL JAZZ CHRISTMAS performs Wednesday, December 20 at the Arts Center in Mesa, AZ. On Thursday they open a two night stand at the Cerritos Center in Cerritos, CA.

GWEN STEFANI AND CHRISTINA AGUILERA perform tonight, Sunday, December 17 at the Sazka Arena in Prague, Czechoslovakia.


Plum pudding and mince pies.

Camilla, The Duchess of Cornwall, and Santa
Traditional for the holidays and as English as Charles Dickens, who featured both in his classic Scrooge and Great Expectations.

Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, have been touring, sampling and taking home pies in paper bags.

First The Duchess of Cornwall turned on the Christmas lights in Tetbury near Highgrove where the couple lives and got into the festive spirit at the market hall. The Duchess spent an hour walking through the town and visiting the local shops. She also met the Tetbury Evening Women's Institute group, of which she is an honorary member.

The group's President, Judie Mason-Smith, commented that The Duchess was very interested in their mince pies. Mason-Smith said: "The Duchess asked if the mince pies were homemade, which they are, and she took two home in a bag."

Perhaps she enjoyed the pies too much, because her husband had to tour a Christmas pudding factory without her, after a bout of gastroenteritis laid her low. Prince Charles said his wife had been looking forward to visiting the Matthew Walker site, where the Prince's own brand Duchy Originals organic pudding is made.The heir to the throne was told how the Heanor plant produces some 25 million Christmas puddings every year.

It employs 160 permanent staff, and 350 during the peak Christmas period.

Among its brands is the the Duchy Originals pudding, made as part of an enterprise set up to raise money for the Prince of Wales Charitable Foundation. "Delicious," said the Prince as he began eating one.

Category manager of puddings Bill Mackie said: "It was fabulous and a real honor. "We have been making his product for five years now and what better accolade than for him to come and see it.

Christmas pudding is the dessert traditionally served on Christmas day in Britain and Ireland as well as in some Commonwealth countries. It is sometimes known as plum pudding. Traditionally, every member of the household stirs the pudding, while making a wish.

Next Column: December 24, 2006
Copyright: December 17, 2006. All Rights Reserved. Reviews, Interviews, Commentary, Photographs or Graphics from any Broadway To Vegas (TM) columns may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, utilized as leads, or used in any manner without permission, compensation and/or credit.
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Laura Deni