The Suffolk and Essex Panto Guide 2018: Festive Family Fun
PUBLISHED: 19:43 21 December 2018
Mike Kwasniak Photography, 2018 - www.mikekwasniak.co.uk
With the Christmas season now truly upon us, our theatres have dusted down their stock of bad jokes and launched themselves into a season of giddy festive fun. Arts editor Andrew Clarke casts an eye over the pantomimes seeking to entertain us this year
Cinderella, New Wolsey, Ipswich, November 29-February 2
This year’s rock ‘n’ roll panto goes back to where it all began. Shake a Tail Feather and head Downtown to Ipswich Town Hall to meet the Baron Hardup who’s preparing for Prince Charming’s royal visit with only the help of his daughter Cinderella and Buttons. Things take a turn for the worse when the mysterious Rubella De Zees and her two dangerous daughters Hernia and Verrucah answer his lonely hearts ad.
Written by Peter Rowe, the classic rock’n’roll panto, with a hint of soul, is back with a multi-talented cast of familiar actor-musicians. Rock, pop and soul classics include It’s Raining Men, In the Midnight Hour, Try a Little Tenderness and Three Steps to Heaven.Thankfully, there’s a Fairy Godmother to make sure Cinderella is ready to Rock Around The Clock!
Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs, Ipswich Regent, December 14-January 2
Mirror, mirror on the wall… which is the most magical pantomime ever told? Snow White is doomed to live unhappily ever after with her horrid stepmother the Wicked Queen.
In a true rags to riches story Snow White manages, with the help of her ‘madcap’ friend Muddles the Jester, to meet a handsome Prince and make all her dreams come true. A pantomime full of excitement, including a Good Fairy, a Magic Mirror and the craziest Seven Dwarfs you’ve ever seen!
The show features Atomic Kitten’s Natasha Hamilton, Collabro’s Matt Pagan, X Factor’s Stevi Ritchie and comedian Mike McClean.
The Fenland Screamers and Other Boggy Tales, Sir John Mills Theatre, Ipswich, December 5-January 5; Seckford Theatre, Woodbridge, January 9-19
Christmas show legends Pat Whymark and Julian Harries bring their original festive musical comedy, The Fenland Screamers & Other Boggy Tales, to Suffolk this winter. The mad-cap musical tells the story of young amateur sleuth siblings Sloppy and Sixpence and is set in December 1930. When celebrating New Year in a deserted hourse, guests decide to share stories to pass the time. The creepy butler Tangent tells them the local legend of the Fenland Screamers, avenging spirits who emerge from the bogs to drag the guilty back down into the mire… and then one guest disappears. Can Sloppy and Sixpence solve the mystery before the Screamers come again and take them all?
Jack and The Beanstalk, Mercury Theatre, Colchester, November 24-January 20
Down on their luck, Jack Trott’s mum sends him to market to sell their beloved cow Daisy. Returning with some magic beans they soon find themselves in really big trouble. Written by former Mercury Theatre Artistic Director, Daniel Buckroyd, and directed by Abigail Anderson, this year’s pantomime promises to be a glittering Christmas treat for the whole family to enjoy.
Starring panto favourites Antony Stuart-Hicks, Dale Superville and Carli Norris (Nurse Nellie, Muddles and the Enchantress in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs), Jack the Beanstalk promises to be bigger that last year’s Mercury panto which was nominated for no less than five Great British Panto Awards, including Best Pantomime, Best Script and Best Dame.
Sleeping Beauty, Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds, November 30-January 13
Princess Aurora, as a newborn baby, was cursed by the evil fairy Carabosse. On her 16th birthday, Aurora will prick her finger on a spinning wheel and die. Will Nanny Fanny, King Edmund and Grub the kitchen boy be able to protect the unsuspecting princess? Will Fairy Fortune find a way to defeat her sister, the wicked Carabosse? And what part does the dashing Prince Florin have to play?
Join the cast in the medieval kingdom of Burytonia for magic, mayhem and more. Most importantly you’ll discover if love really can conquer all.
Alice in Wonderland, The Avenue Theatre, Ipswich, December 7-31
Red Rose Chain’s Joanna Carrick invites you down the rabbit hole for this timeless topsy-turvy tale featuring all your favourite Wonderland characters as you’ve never seen them before. Curiouser and curiouser. The show welcomes back Red Rose Chain favourites Lawrence Russell (Mr Tod) and Leonie Spilsbury, joined by Darren Latham – fresh from his role as Ronnie in Red Riding Hood, and as everyone’s favourite baker Frank and one of the mischievous Elves last Christmas in The Elves & The Shoemaker.
The Scarlet Pipstrelle, by Julian Harries and Pat Whymark, Common Ground Theatre Company, on tour and New Wolsey Studio until January 19, 2019
“They seek him here, they seek him there,” Christmas jesters Julian Harries and Pat Whymark have married a batty tale about modern knitting circles with the drama of the French Revolution. Pat and Julian continue their love of genre send-ups with the intriguingly named The Scarlet Pipstrelle. This year, the story is set against the backdrop of the East Ipswich Ladies Crochet Society’s weekly meeting. They have decided to do a Christmas entertainment to raise funds for the local bat conservation group and mayhem ensues.
Cinderella, Civic Theatre, Chelmsford, November 30-January 6
Cinderella is the fairy godmother of all pantomimes. Poor Cinderella has lost her beloved father and has been put in the care of her stepmother who has two daughters of her own. Forced to all the cleaning, mending and cooking will she get he fairytale ending... oh yes she will!
Sleeping Beauty, Spa Pavilion, Felixstowe, December 21-January 6
The Dennis Lowe Theatre Company returns for its annual take over of the Spa for the Christmas season. Written and directed by Suzie Lowe, this year’s hotly-anticipated show, perhaps the longest running pantomime by any single theatre company in Britain, will bring the classic fairy-tale to life with what promises to be a magical experience.
Suzy will be staging a new version of this classic tale of devilment and derring-do with a plucky heroine, a villain you’ll love to hiss and plenty of pantomime carry on.
Lashings of laughter, frantic frivolity, gorgeously glittering costumes, a spectacular set, and plenty of ‘he’s behind you,’ will make the 53rd Dennis Lowe Theatre Company pantomime a memorable outing for everyone.
Peter Pan, Princes Theatre, Clacton-on-Sea, until January 1
X-Factor’s Marcus Collins stars as Peter Pan in this classic panto. Stunning special effects help tell this tale of the Darling children’s trip to Neverland. There’s plenty of swashbuckling adventure as Pan battles Captain Hook, played by Andrew Edwards, along with his side-kick Smee played by Clacton-born comedian Mick Dundee. Songstress Lauren Edwards plays Wendy and Beth Fisher is the mischevious fairy Tinkerbell. Look out for some fantastic flying effects.
Robin Hood, The Quay Theatre, Sudbury, December 15-January 1
Sudbury Dramatic Society need the help of the audience to assist Robin and his Merry Men foil the dastardly plans of the Wicked Sheriff of Nottingham and his Evil Mother in this tale of heroes and villains, love, romance and adventure. There’s plenty hearty laughter in the greenwood along with battles and songs.
Peter Pan, Marina Theatre, Lowestoft, December 13-January 1
Turn right at the second star and fly away to Never Land! Join Wendy, Michael and John Darling as they, the Lost Boys and Tinker Bell try to outwit Captain Hook, played by EastEnders’ Sid Owen. You don’t have to believe in fairies, to enjoy this awfully big adventure, full of pirates and fairy dust.
The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, The Seagull Theatre, Lowestoft, December 13-22
Adapted from the book by CS Lewis, Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy are evacuated from London during the Blitz to stay with the Professor.
While exploring, they stumble across a gateway to a magical world called Narnia where they find themselves caught up in a struggle between good and evil. From December 21-23 the theatre hosts the adult panto – The Liar, The Bitch and The Wardrobe Malfunction by Richard Melchior.