Panto stars light up city carol service
PUBLISHED: 15:38 21 December 2018
Jamie Honeywood Archant Norwich Norfolk
The cast of Norwich Theatre Royal’s Aladdin assembled at one of the city’s favourite churches for a special star studded service.
Families and theatre fans packed out St Peter Mancroft’s Church in Norwich for its annual Pantomime Carol Service.
The congregation was treated to an hour of music, interactive stories and traditional panto banter.
The Rev Edward Carter, vicar of the church and chaplain to the Theatre Royal, welcomed the crowds before the beaming choir of Pantomime Babes took their place on the chancel.
Decked in a collection of sparkly Santa hats and reindeer antlers the youngsters performed a cheeky ditty of about the joys and pains of gobbling too much Christmas grub.
Panto genie and children’s TV presenter Kiera-Nicole Brennan joined Emmerdale star and this year’s villain Rik Makarem for an animated poetry performance about political correctness in Santa’s workshop.
Miss Brennan then taught the congregation how to sing We Wish You a Merry Christmas in sign language and soon had the whole church collaborating in the special rendition.
Next up, panto princess Anna Hannides and this year’s Aladdin, Steven Roberts, flexed their vocal chords with an emotional ballad.
The romantic leads wowed the crowd with a stunning duet of festive classic, Someday at Christmas, which was met with thunderous applause.
An interactive story by Rev Carter had the audience singing as his protagonist, a magic carpet, searched followed the star of Bethlehem.
Norwich Theatre Royal favourite and legendary dame, Richard Gauntlett, elicited chuckles from the congregation with a mischievous poem about Santa coming up trumps after a sprout supper.
The panto heavyweight punctuated his performance with some classic audience participation, bringing a touch of slapstick magic to the nave.
After the festivities, Mr Gauntlett told us that after 18 years of performing in the Norwich Theatre Royal panto, the unique carol service was still an annual highlight.
He said: “Every year we come and do this special service and it’s always packed and it’s a fabulous start to Christmas. We had a bit of audience participation from our vicar which was lovely and quite unexpected!
“The kids that play the babes in the panto do some singing which is always a bit gulpy and just beautiful. It’s a wonderful service, it really is.”
Norwich Theatre Royal’s Aladdin is showing until Sunday, January 13, 2019.