Sheringham’s panto writer is also in Memphis and London. Oh yes he is...

PUBLISHED: 09:09 27 October 2014 | UPDATED: 09:09 27 October 2014

Memphis the Musical Killian Donnelly and Beverly Knight. Picture; JOHAN PERSSON

Memphis the Musical Killian Donnelly and Beverly Knight. Picture; JOHAN PERSSON


A West End show star is splitting his time between London, Memphis, Sheringham and Sherwood Forest.

Memphis the Musical - Killian Donnelly as Huey Calhoun. Picture; JOHAN PERSSONMemphis the Musical - Killian Donnelly as Huey Calhoun. Picture; JOHAN PERSSON

Irishman Killian Donnelly has a lead role alongside Beverley Knight in the new Memphis The Musical Show which has just opened at the Shaftesbury Theatre.

He plays a white radio DJ whose love of rhythm and blues music, and a coloured soul singer, sparks tension in a segregated southern US state in the 1950s.

But he has also penned Sheringham’s Robin Hood panto - also a love story where good triumphs over evil, but with gags and slapstick fun along the way.

It is a split personality dual role Killian, 30, has become accustomed to having first written Jack and the Beanstalk for the Little Theatre two years ago while in Billy Elliot and Snow White last year while in The Commitments.

Killian Donnelly helping young actors during a workshop at Sheringham Little TheatreKillian Donnelly helping young actors during a workshop at Sheringham Little Theatre

It is link first forged by Little Theatre director Debbie Thompson who was impressed with his stage presence then discovered he also wrote pantos. Her daughter Katie Tweeted the star who agreed to help the Little Theatre with its festive fun show.

Mr Donnelly said: “I was brought up on panto at home in County Meath and in Dublin.

“I was nine when I saw my first one, and was 21 when I wrote my first panto - as a fund raiser to help my am dram company.”

The key to a good panto was having some jokes for children and others for adults so all sections of the family were laughing.

“You also need to avoid the ‘crisp packet moments’ when a bit of storytelling slows the action and the kids fidget,” he added.

Pantos also needed to be intimate so the 180-seat Little Theatre was an ideal venue, said Mr Donelly during a break between shows this week.

His Robin Hood would have topical references, and local gags - thanks to input from the Sheringham team.

While it was not a mainstream panto, it had all the ingredients as it was a “perfect good versus evil story.”

He starts writing the panto in the spring to have a draft ready for the summer - then liaises with Sheringham via phone and emails between West End shows, visiting when he can.

Mr Donnelly has also supported the theatre by attending workshops for young people, and says the Norfolk and the venue reminds him of home. Mrs Thompson said: “We are so lucky and honoured to have the support of someone as successful as Killian. He is a true inspiration for all our young people and a great script writer who makes our pantomime extra special.”

Robin Hood runs at Sheringham Little Theatre from December 12 until January 3. For show times, information and tickets call 01263 822347 or visit

For information about Memphis the Musical visit


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