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Final curtain call for popular Sheringham pantomime dame

07:00 01 January 2015

Sheringham Little Theatre panto star Russell Hicken.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Sheringham Little Theatre panto star Russell Hicken. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2014

He has been a popular character on the north Norfolk pantomime scene, appearing in an array of outrageous costumes for the past five years.

Sheringham panto dame Russel Hicken at the Wash Inn laundrette in Norwich; Photo: Bill SmithSheringham panto dame Russel Hicken at the Wash Inn laundrette in Norwich; Photo: Bill Smith

But Russel Hicken is treading the boards at Sheringham Little Theatre in Robin Hood for the final time this year until the curtains close on Saturday.

He plays Nurse Polly Tix and his first role was Widow Twankey in Aladdin in 2010.

Other dame characters included Sarah the Cook in Dick Whittington, Dame Molly Coddle in Jack and the Beanstalk, Nurse Nanny Knotty Knickers in Snow White.

Mr Hicken, 38, who grew up in north Devon and Penzance, said: “The final night will be quite emotional. Robin Hood is one of the funniest shows we have done.

Russel Hicken as Sarah the Cook to launch Sheringham Little Theatre's panto.  Photo: Bill SmithRussel Hicken as Sarah the Cook to launch Sheringham Little Theatre's panto. Photo: Bill Smith

“Sheringham Little Theatre has such a lovely feel about it. The audience is so close and for a pantomime, that is amazing. I feel I have made friends for life at Sheringham.”

After pursuing his childhood acting dream, he completed a 
three-year degree in musical theatre at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts in London after finishing his A-levels.

He has acted professionally in the capital within musical theatre for the past 15 years.

Mr Hicken, who is moving back to Penzance, said: “When I started at Sheringham I gave it my all because I didn’t know if it would work or I would work as dame. Surprisingly I found it quite easy.

Sheringham Little Theatre's 2012 panto, Jack and the Beanstalk. Molly the dame played by Russel Hicken, Jack played by Jonathan Broderick and Jill played by Rachel Waring.
PHOTO: ANTONY KELLYSheringham Little Theatre's 2012 panto, Jack and the Beanstalk. Molly the dame played by Russel Hicken, Jack played by Jonathan Broderick and Jill played by Rachel Waring. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

“Pantomime isn’t like any other show. In a normal show you pretend the audience are not there by using a so-called fourth wall, but with pantomime you completely smash that wall.

“I love the unpredictability of pantomime and it is such a fantastic way to spend Christmas.”

He felt lucky with the camaraderie between current and past show performers, whom he described as a family.

The most challenging part of being dame was getting the audience to like the character, as well the many costume changes.

“I always envy the other cast because they get one costume. I have to change mine every time I go off stage,” he said.

Memorable costumes include a cupcake outfit in Dick Whittington, a Dalek costume in Snow White and a teacup hat in Aladdin.

Is your community staging a pantomime or other production? Email newsdesk@archant.co.uk

1 comment

  • What a great pity, my wife and I saw 3 of Russel's shows and he was always one of the stars of the show bringing so much pleasure and so many smiles to audiences of all ages. Thanks for all the laughs and hope things work out for you back in Penzance.

    Report this comment

    Steve S

    Thursday, January 1, 2015

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