Guide to the best 2016 pantos in Norfolk and Suffolk, oh yes it is!
- Credit: Teele Killing
The panto season is upon us once again and there is no shortage of festive shows for all the family over the festive period. Behind you!
• Jack & The Beanstalk
Norwich Theatre Royal, December 13-January 15, various dates/times, £23.50-£7, 01603 630000, www.theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk
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Down on his luck and barely able to afford the rent, Jack is tricked into selling the family cow for a handful of magic beans. On his return home Jack's mum is furious and their madcap journey to the top of the beanstalk begins. A giant of a magical adventure. Actor and variety performer Richard Gauntlett again takes charge returning to Norwich to be part of his 16th Theatre Royal pantomime, not only as the Dame, but also again as writer and director. Heading up the cast is Wayne Sleep as Phineas P Stinkworthy. Comedian and variety star Ben Langley also returns after making his Norwich panto debut last year as Muddles in Snow White. He has previously starred in the Cromer Seaside Special Variety Show, and writes and stars in the hugely popular Ha Ha Shows. David Burilin, played Prince Frederick in last year's production of Snow White, is back as Jack Trottalot, Mira Ormala plays Jolene Hiccup, David Gant is the Sheriff Phil Hiccup and Harriet Bunton will be magic as Dolly the Fairy.
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• My First Panto
The Garage, Chapel Field North, Norwich, until December 24, various times, £10, £6 children, under-1s free, 01603 630000, www.thegarage.org.uk
This special interactive festive show – a co-production by The Garage and All-In Productions –is aimed at giving children aged two to five their first experience of theatre. Cinderella dreams of a life with palaces, princes and pumpkins, a life far away from cleaning, cooking and looking after her horrid step sisters, with only her best friend Buttons, to keep her company. Then one day, everything changes with an invitation to go to The Prince's ball. How will Cinderella make it to the ball? What shall she wear? And will she get caught sneaking by her horrid step sisters? From helping cinders to clean up the messy house, finding ingredients to help the Fairy Godmother's spells through to dancing at the ball; you take part in this performance rather than just watching. Ages 2-5.
• Peter Pan
Sheringham Little Theatre, until January 1, various times, £18, £13 children, £60 family, 01263 822347, www.sheringhamlittletheatre.com
The stories that Wendy Darling tells her brothers John and Michael soon sends them flying from London (via Norfolk) to Neverland thanks to the boy who refuses to grow up in Sheringham Little Theatre's panto from the professional team who last year brought us Cinderella, including creator and director Nick Earnshaw, pictured with Tick and Tock the crocodile puppets. Stunning costumes, huge production numbers and, of course, a high-flying boy who wouldn't grow up; the Darling children travelling to Neverland is just the start of their awfully big adventure and meet the most famous fairy of them all, Tinker Bell, a feisty girl full of attitude. There will be plenty of Pirates, including the bumbling Miss Smee (James Lavender) and Starkey (Rik Warren) and that most dastardly of villains Captain Hook (Neil Paris).
• Jack and the Beanstalk
Princess Theatre, Hunstanton, until January 1, various times, £15.50 (£12.50 cons), £12.50 children, £50 family, 01485 532252, www.princesshunstanton.co.uk
Magic beans, giants and a boy called Jack in this year's panto at the Princess Theatre. One of the best loved pantomimes, it, of course, tells the story of Jack and his mother Dame Trott and their battle with the evil giant Blunderbore. Fleshcreep, the giant's henchman forces Dame Trott to sell Daisy the Cow to raise money for rent. However Jack exchanges Daisy for a handful of beans which turn out to be magic. Cue lost of adventures as Jack climbs the beanstalk to cloudland to rescue Jill from the Giant's clutches. The show will be a high energy mix of singing, dancing and comedy, coupled with spectacular scenery and costumes not to mention the giant beanstalk.
Simon Hollosi is Jack, Christopher Marlowe plays Dame Daisy Trott, Lucy Rollason is Jill and Ryan Taylor is Fleshcreep (boo hiss!).
• Dick Whittington
Memorial Hall, Dereham, December 21-January 2, various dates/times, £13 (£11 cons), 01362 690969, www.derehamtheatre.co.uk
It's simply not Christmas without a visit to panto. But it isn't just about large theatres vying with each other for star names. It is equally important to the smaller towns and villages providing much needed box office revenues for amateur dramatic groups. In Dereham and Fakenham audiences never fail to show their support for the annual pantos put on by Dereham Theatre Company and Fakenham and District Light Operatic Society. This year it is Dick Whittington in Dereham. Dick Whittington has travelled to London where he believes the streets are paved with gold. Unfortunately the truth is far from the legend and Dick finds himself with a menial job at Fitzwarren's Stores, in a capital plagued with rats. One villainous Rat in particular is determined to put pay to Dick's success, plotting to stop him becoming London's Mayor and taking the hand of Alice Fitzwarren. Tickets are also available from The Little Gallery.
King's Lynn Corn Exchange, December 9-31, various times, £20-£14 (£19 cons), family discounts, 01553 764864, www.kingslynncornexchange.co.uk
West Norfolk's biggest and best family festive show brings the classic fairytale to King's Lynn Corn Exchange for the best loved pantomime of them all. Left at home by the ugliest of sisters, Cinders can not go to the ball. However, with help from her magical Fairy Godmother and brilliant buffoonery from Buttons, the most exciting night of her life is about to begin.... Matt Lapinskas, best known for playing Anthony Moon in EastEnders, will lead the cast in the role of Prince Charming. Returning for his seventh year as director, and this year playing Ugly Sister Marjorie Hardup, is Ian Marr. He will be joined by Steven Kynman, CBeebies' Robert The Robot, as the second Ugly Sister – Floribunda Hardup. Melissa Fleming makes her debut as Cinderella and Scott Cripps returns to the role of Buttons, direct from the West End.
Angles Theatre, Wisbech, December 9-31, various dates/times, tickets start at £10, 01945 474447, www.anglestheatre.co.uk
The Angles Theatre's award-winning Ratz theatre company perform a proper traditional family pantomime Aladdin throughout the festive period. Written by Warren McWilliams, the cast of 40 expect to thoroughly entertain audiences at this always popular panto. Aladdin (Josh Shippey) has to battle the evil Abanazar (Lorraine Carver) to win Jasmine's (Eden Carver) hand in marriage. Meanwhile Wishy Washy (Matt Beare) also tries his hardest to entice So Shi (Rheanon Hanks) into his arms. The Genie (Kate Filart), who confusingly keeps changing the master he obeys according to who rubs the lamp, also tries his best to ensure that the whole story has a happy ending. Interrupting the story and encouraging the audience to help is Aladdin and Wishy Washy's mum, Widow Twankey (Kevin Shippey). Widow Twankey runs Old Peking's well known laundry called Twankey's Wondrous Washarama. Her late husband Frankie Twankey was a swanky, lanky Yankee who was always after hanky panky and sadly drowned at sea.
• Beauty & The Beast
Marina Theatre, Lowestoft, December 13-January 1, various dates/times, £17.50-£10, 01502 533200, www.marinatheatre.co.uk
From the award winning producers of Snow White & Sleeping Beauty, this year's Lowestoft panto is the enchanting tale of Beauty and the Beast, the famous story of a French girl whose selfless love for the Beast transforms him back into a handsome prince. Headlining the cast and taking us on a quest to beat the beast, is dashing Hollyoaks and Holby City actor Jeremy Edwards – who plays Lothario Gaston. Joining Jeremy is Britain's Got Talent star Rosie Hale who's sure to light up the stage as Belle, Lowestoft panto favourite Terry Gleed is back as the loveable Freddie and the deliciously wicked Helen Jeckells who takes on the role of the Witch. Fenton Gray dishes up a recipe of success as the adorable Madame Cherie Trifle and Matthew Wellman is both Prince François and the Beast. Fun, laughter, songs, silliness and bucket loads of audience participation in a run of 30 performances over the festive period.
• Robin Hood
St George's Theatre, Great Yarmouth, December 17-January 8, various dates/times, £12 (£11 cons), £9 children, £39 family, 01493 331484, www.stgeorgestheatre.com
Following the success of 2013's Jack and the Beanstalk, 2014's Aladdin and last year's record setting Cinderella, Yarmouth's St George's Theatre again hosts another professional panto. Having been without a pantomime for several years the seaside town has firmly established the tradition and this year the team are back with their unique take on Robin Hood, packed full of slapstick, song and laughter. Who is riding through the glen? Robin Hood, dashing adventurer, expert archer and leader of his Merry Men. Expect romance with Maid Marion and battles with the dastardly Sherriff. Family fun, laughs and mayhem guaranteed.
Pavilion Theatre, Gorleston, until January 16, selected dates/times, £12.50 (£10 cons), £9 under-15s, 01493 662832, www.gorlestonpavilion.co.uk
Ohyesitiz Productions return to Gorleston Pavilion again to present audiences with the traditional family panto classic Aladdin. Magic lamps, the genie and lots of proper panto antics for all the family. Written and directed by National Theatre and Royal Shakespeare Company actor Desmond Barrit, the show again promises to be full of laughs, colourful costumes and fast-paced action. Expect all the usual fun with Aladdin, Widow Twankey and the magic lamp, plus some twists. For the tenth Christmas running Helen McDermott is back, this time playing the humble theatre cleaner magically becomes the Spirit of the Ring, swapping her broom for a wand. With 46 performances running through to New Year's Eve, there is still a chance to book a seat and join in the festive fun.
• Jack And The Beanstalk/Santa's Big Sneeze
Seagull Theatre, Pakefield, Lowestoft, December 14-24, various times, £10 (£9 cons), £7 children/group, 01502 589726, www.theseagull.co.uk
The Seagull Theatre this year boasts two bites at the panto cherry. The main show is brand new pantomime written especially for the Seagull Theatre based on Jack And The Beanstalk. Join Jack Trott and his family and friends (including a delicious Dame, a bad Baron, and a grumbling Giant) this Christmas for a family-friendly, laugh-a-minute ride through the Suffolk countryside and the clouds above. Meanwhile Santa's Big Sneeze (Dec 21, 10.30am/1.30pm, £5) offers a one-off experience of the magic of panto, created for nursery, reception and year one children. The show tells the story of Father Christmas, who is unable to deliver presents after he develops a cold on Christmas Eve. But luckily A'tish the Elf and Mistletoe The Fairy come to the rescue and find some well-known children's character to help along the way too. Lots of noisy sneezing and plenty of Christmas tunes and children's songs to join in with.
• Robin Hood
Fisher Theatre, Bungay, December 19-January 2, 1pm/4.30pm (1pm/6pm Thurs/Fri), £12 (£10.50 cons), 01986 897130, www.fishertheatre.org
Following their hugely successful visit with The Wizard of Oz last Christmas, Immersion Theatre are thrilled to be returning to the Fisher Theatre for a second year with their biggest, most spectacular pantomime to date, the rip-roaring adventures of Robin Hood. Follow the exciting escapades of our dashing hero and his loyal band of merry men in this madcap, medieval romp, as Robin fights to restore justice for the people of Sherwood, win the heart of the beautiful Maid Marion and rid the land of the avaricious Sheriff of Nottingham once and for all. Promising heaps of audience participation, thrilling sword fights, archery contests, spirited heroes and dastardly villains, it is sure to be a Christmas treat this much loved tale is given an exhilarating twist, perfect for the entire family. No performances Christmas Day and New Year's Day.
Beccles Public Hall, December 23-January 1, various dates/times, tickets from £9.50, 01502 770060, www.becclespublichall.org.uk
Aladdin will be on the stage at Beccles Public Hall following the success of last year's pantomime Jack and the Beanstalk. Set in Old Peeking China, the story follows the story of Widow Twankey and her two sons Wishee Washee and Aladdin. They go out searching for fame and fortune to save their struggling laundry business but encounter some problems along the way when they discover a magic lamp. The show will be packed with upbeat songs, dazzling costumes, stunning scenery and of course a magic carpet. Last year's lead Emma Riches is back to take on the role of Aladdin. Daniel Hanton will play the dame, Widow Twankey having previously played an Ugly Sister in Cinderella at Great Yarmouth's St George's Theatre. Ross Chenery takes the role of loveable, happy-go-lucky Wishee Washee along with Sharn McDonald who will bring magic to the stage as the Blue Genie. And of course a pantomime is not complete without its baddie, and show producer Ryan Holt will swapping sides of the stage to play the evil Abanazar with his side kick Helen Harper playing the Slave of the Ring.
• Beauty and the Beast
Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds, until January 15, various times and prices, £26.50-£8.50, 01284 769505, www.theatreroyal.org
After scaling Jack and the Beanstalk last year, Chris Hannon returns to Bury Theatre Royal to pen another journey of enchantment and magic in this traditional family panto staging of the classic fable, again overseen by Theatre Royal's director Karen Simpson. Set in the depths of Beastly St Edmunds, the story of Beauty and the Beast is brought to life. Who is the mysterious beast hiding in the shadows? Will Beauty overcome her fears? And will love conquer all? As ever there will be plenty of music, wonder, fun and laughter in a story to warm your heart and make your spirits soar – a perfect and captivating family treat.