17 Pantomime and sparkling Christmas shows not to miss this season

Panto feat pix 4/12/14

Panto feat pix 4/12/14 - Credit: Archant

This pantomime season is upon us once again — oh yes it is. SIMON PARKIN dons his best panto dame garb and casts his eye over this year's festive shows for all the family.

Panto feat pix 4/12/14

Panto feat pix 4/12/14 - Credit: Archant

Thursford Spectacular

Thursford Green, Thursford, until December 23, 2pm/7pm, £38-£30 (Sat/Sun shows in Dec £2 extra), 01328 878477, www.thursford.com The country's largest Christmas Spectacular returns. Set in the magical surroundings of mechanical organs and fairground carousels, with a cast of 130 professional singers, dancers and musicians – many of whom are West End performers. An extravaganza of non-stop singing, dancing, music, humour and variety. It features an eclectic mix of both seasonal and year-round favourites, with famous and much-loved chart toppers being sung alongside traditional carols.

Rudolph's Christmas Adventure

Princess Theatre, Hunstanton, December 5-January 1, various times, £13.50, £10.50 children, £42 family, 01485 532252, www.princesshunstanton.co.uk Rudolph and his friends head this fun filled festive musical spectacular featuring all your favourite Christmas songs, comedy and audience participation as they set off on a magical Christmas Adventure, where favourite fairytale characters thwart plans of the selfish old Mr Crumpus and his evil sidekick as they try to change Christmas.

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Robin Hood

Sheringham Little Theatre, December 12-January 3, various times, £17-£16, £12-£11 children, £54-£40 family, 01263 822347, www.sheringhamlittletheatre.com Popular pantomime about taking from the rich to give to the poor has been written by West End star Killian Donnelly, currently starring in the London musical Memphis as Huey, with an original script. He wrote last year's Snow White pantomime which was a great success. The show features a professional cast as well as teams of local children. Combining the classic tale of Robin Hood and his Merry Men with the East Anglian yarn Babes in the Wood - first printed in Norwich in 1595 - it features a number of modern twists, with characters including the Sheriff of Rottingham, Snapchap and panto dame Nanny Polly Tix, played by Little Theatre regular Russel Hicken. 'We are also excited to welcome back Nick Earnshaw, who played ugly sister Pearl in our panto in 2009,' said Debbie Thompson said.

Cromer Pier Christmas Show

Pavilion Theatre, Cromer Pier, until December 27, various times, £15.30-£9, £5.40 children, £45-£40 (10% standard discount online for all seats), 01263 512495, www.cromer-pier.com Putting on the glitz, the all-singing, all-dancing Cromer Pier's Christmas Show has sprinkled on extra glitter to mark its 10th anniversary. The hugely popular end-of-the-pier show is a very traditional kind of variety show for all the family, given a festive twist guaranteed to provide seasonal sparkle and cheer. Well-known singer and actress Lyn Paul, who found global fame with the New Seekers, heads the cast that also includes ever popular Norfolk all-round entertainer Olly Day, singer Eddie Bushell, magician Benson and a six-strong dance troupe.

Christmas Spectacular

Hippodrome, Great Yarmouth, December 13-January 11, £21-£18 (£16.50-£15 cons), £13-£10 children, discounts for families, 01493 844172, hippodromecircus.co.uk Circus magic with the spirit of Christmas. This year's show has the Amazing Globe Bikers from Brazil plus dare devil double Wheel of Death the 'Eremia Brothers', amazing flying trapeze from Canadian Eric McGill, incredible Diablo, hilarious comedy from Jack Jay and Pip Randell, acrobatics and a huge team of swimmers, dancers and the children from Dance Estelle, plus students from the Chermond Gymnastics School in Norwich. A fast moving dynamic show with over 50 performers in the unique Hippodrome atmosphere. Snow White

Pavilion Theatre, Gorleston, December 10-January 4, various times, £12.50 (£10 cons), £9 children, 01493 662832, www.gorlestonpavilion.co.uk

Mirror, mirror on the wall…One of the most traditional fairytale pantos is this year's family offering in the Edwardian venue of Gorleston's Pavilion, the tale of Snow, the seven dwarves, the huntsman and the Wicked Queen. Co-director Helen McDermott, who has waved her wand in Gorleston Pavilion's pantomimes for the past 10 years, appears as the face in the mirror, alongside fellow cast members Mike Coleman, Georgia Whyte, Nick Potts and Steve Pawell. 'Makes a change from being the Good Fairy,' she joked. 'This is a unique theatre, I would say, in the whole country. It's a wonderful setting to come and watch a show seated at tables and Gorleston is a great place to visit. The show is great fun for the whole family. We've had to put on additional shoes to accomodate all the schools who want to come along, which is great. Panto is a wonderful way to get into the Christmas spirit.'

Beauty and the Beast

The Atrium, North Walsham, December 11, 7pm, 12, 7.30pm, 13, 2pm/7pm, £9 (£6 cons), £6 children, £27 family, 01692 400080, www.theatrium.org.uk North Walsham's enchanting family show is a tale as old as time; follow heroine Belle through the forest as she finds herself trapped by a beast who has been enchanted by an evil witch. Will the last rose petal fall before the day can be saved or can true love really break the spell? With plenty of audience interaction, adventure and romance, it is perfect for all the family again written by Joseph Ballard and produced by Headless Entertainment. The story will be brought to life by professional actors, local actors and young people form our drama club and youth theatre.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Angles Theatre, Wisbech, December 15-31, various times, £11 (£9 cons), £36 family, 01945 474447, www.anglestheatre.co.uk Mirror, mirror on the wall – which is the best panto of them all? Why, it's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs which is very much the region's most popular panto this year. It is also Wisbech's traditional festive family show at the Angles Theatre, specially written by Ben Crocker, and again staged by RATz, the theatre's award-winning company. Always excellent fun, tickets are selling fast, so book now to avoid missing out.

The Snow Queen

Seagull Theatre, Pakefield, Lowestoft, December 17-28, various times, £8 (£7 cons), £5 children, 01502 589726, www.theseagull.co.uk Given the overwhelming popularity of Disney's Frozen, it is surprising to not see more productions of Hans Christian Andersen's fable on which it is based. This Seagull Christmas production is a thrilling 4D tale of action, adventure and ice-skates for the whole family. Following an unfortunate incident with a reality-altering magic mirror, the now unspeakably evil Snow Queen terrifies the land. She has her sights set on hot-headed Kai to join her in her palace of ice and won't take no for an answer. Wrap up warm and join the heroic Gerda, an amorous Grandmother and a down-on-his-luck storyteller as they battle highway robbers, an assortment of winter-themed henchmen and the frozen-hearted Snow Queen herself in a bid to rescue Kai. The Secret Garden

Westacre Theatre, River Road, Westacre, December 17-27, various times, £16-£12, £12-£9 under-16s, 01760 755800, www.westacretheatre.com A key to unlock the spirit in this Christmas tale of magic that offers something different to traditional panto, though sure to be no less popular. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett is here staged in a adaptation by Andy Naylor, directed by Hayley Roberts. Mary Lennox, a sickly, foul-tempered, spoilt little girl brought up in India by a wealth of servants has a rude awakening when she is sent to Yorkshire to live with her Uncle. Friendless and disliked, she seeks refuge from her loneliness in a secret garden that has remained locked for many years. What she discovers there transforms her life and those of everyone around her.

Peter Pan

Norwich Theatre Royal, December 18-January 18, various times, £21-£5.50, 01603 630000, www.theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk

Norwich Theatre Royal panto stalwart Richard Gauntlett has again written this year's production based on J. M. Barrie's

adventures of mischievous boy who can fly and never grows up. And having forgone his usual dame role last year, he will again not be dressing in a frock as he don pirate wear to play Smee. Kevin Kennedy, still best known as Coronation Street's Curly Watts, has been busy practising rolling his 'arrrrrs' as he too heads for Neverland to play swashbuckling villain Captain Hook. 'I can't think of a better job to do at Christmas,' he said. 'It's the first time I've played a baddie in panto. I'm really looking forward to it. It's a lot more fun. You don't have to work as hard to be bad – it's hard work to be nice all the time.' The cast also includes Charlotte Baptie, who recently appeared in West Side Story at the Theatre Royal, as Peter Pan, returning panto favourite Ruth Betteridge as Wendy, comedy actor Ben Langley as Starkey and CBeebies presenter Sid Sloane in the dame role as Aunt Delilah. 'Playing the dame is perfect for me,' he says. 'It will be my sixth panto, but the first time as a dame, although on CBeebies I dressed up as an Ugly Sister in Cinderella and I have

to tell you I had great

fun with that – all the make-up, the eyelashes, the wigs and the dresses – even the high heels. It was brilliant!'

The Borrowers

Maddermarket Theatre, Norwich, December 19-January 3, various times, £38-£8, 01603 620917, www.maddermarket.co.uk Following the success of their last two Christmas shows, The Snow Queen and The Railway Children, the Maddermarket builds on their reputation for offering different with this adaptation of The Borrowers, written by Mary Norton in 1952 and adapted for the stage by Charles Way. An adventurous, heart-warming Christmas treat, is the story of the 'tiny' Clock family, who live beneath the floorboards of a large Victorian house and 'borrow' from the big people above to survive. The one danger that lurks above is the 'human beans', so when the boy staying in the house discovers their presence their lives change forever as they are forced to face the dangers of the giant outside world. The story was a popular BBC series in the early 1990s and in 2011 a BBC production starring Stephen Fry, Victoria Wood and Christopher Eccleston, was equally successful.

Robinson Crusoe

Fisher Theatre, Bungay, December 19-27, various times, £11 (£10 cons), 01986 897130, www.fishertheatre.org The Panto Company returns to the Fisher Theatre for a third year with their retelling of Defoe's classic adventure book. It tells the tale of Crusoe, heroic captain of the Good Ship Lizzie. His mission – to seek out wondrous treasures, discover strange new lands, and to boldly go where no action-packed family adventure has gone before! Yet, when Crusoe is shipwrecked. There he meets his hilarious new friend, Man Friday; the mysterious Princess Moonflower; and of course, wicked pirate, Captain Hogwash.

Perils of Pinocchio

Diss Corn Hall, December 19-21, various times, £9, £7 under-16s, 01379 652241, disscornhall.co.uk Carlo Collodi's thrilling story of a little wooden puppet who dreams of being a real boy is brought vividly to life in this charming and funny adaptation of the classic tale by acclaimed local theatre company The Keepers Daughter. Pinocchio encounters all manner of characters, including a fairy with blue hair, a talking cricket, and a devious fox-and-cat duo. With each new adventure, he learns a little bit more about the sometimes difficult process of growing up – made even trickier for him because his nose grows a little bit longer every time he tells a fib! With music, songs and lots of laughs.


St George's Theatre, Great Yarmouth, December 20-January 4, various times, £11 (£9.50 cons), £8.50 children, £36 family, 01493 331484, www.stgeorgestheatre.com Following the success of last year's Jack and the Beanstalk, Yarmouth's St George's Theatre rub the magic lamp and get the Genie to grant their wish for a professional production of Aladdin, steeped in magic, full of wonder and packed with surprises. Evil Abanazar wants the magic lamp, Widow Twanky wants a husband, Aladdin wants adventure and Wishee Washee wants a clean vest - can the Genie of the Lamp grant their wishes? It's a proper fun-filled family panto, full of laughs and mayhem. It is an in house production meaning all profits go to St George's Theatre Trust which operates the theatre throughout the year.

Great Expectations

Holkham Hall, December 20-21, 7pm, £17.50-£13.50, £12.50-£8.50 children, 01328 713111, holkham.co.uk Christmas theatre returns to the Marble Hall at Holkham, with Charles Dickens's tale of destiny, desire and duplicity, staged by Rain or Shine Theatre Company in James Reynard's new adaptation. Young orphan Pip's expectations are shaped by a mysterious benefactor. Could it be an escaped convict he meets on Christmas Eve, or perhaps Miss Haversham the eternal bride?

Beauty & The Beast

Norwich Puppet Theatre, December 23-January 17, various times, £9 (£7.50 cons, £7 children, £27 family, 01603 629921, puppettheatre.co.uk What happens when two extreme opposites meet? Can Beauty come to understand the Beast? Norwich Puppet Theatre's fun packed festive caper is part adventure, part extraordinary love story inspired by the iconic era of 1920s and 30s cinema, featuring a skilful mix of string puppets, film projections and original music. The story starts in a desert wasteland where our young heroine Beauty is panning for gold with her frugal father. She is discovered by a greedy film producer who plucks her from a life of poverty with promises of fame and fortune in the movies. Caught up in the glitz and glamour Beauty forgets her roots and is ensnared by a world obsessed with good looks - but looks aren't everything right?

Hansel and Gretel's Big Adventure

Hunstanton Town Hall, December 27-30, 2pm, 7pm Dec 27-29, £7.50, £5 children, 01485 532610, Hansel and Gretel and their big brother Billy need your help in this exciting and family-friendly panto adventure of good versus evil being staged by Hunstanton Festival Players. This year promises to be bigger then ever, and after last year's sell out shows they have added an extra performance. With lots of audience participation this new spin on a familiar tale sees our young duo trying to help their poverty riddled mother, Dame Kitty Litter from becoming homeless and thrown out onto the streets by the wicked landlord Squire Shillington and his daft sidekick accountant Smudge. Amazing sets, including a spooky UV scene and some great sing-a-long songs.

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