The dame behind 10 years of Norwich panto

A family favourite, a triumph of planning, a technical marvel... and Richard Gauntlett is at the heart of it. Trevor Heaton meets the power behind the Norwich Theatre Royal panto.

When Richard Gauntlett strides out on the Norwich Theatre Royal stage as Dame Trott in this year's panto, his colourful costumes will once again be a joy to behold. But one thing you won't see is the 150 people behind him.

Not just the cast, but the the costume team, technical, stage, publicity, marketing... the list goes on, and on. Which is why Jack and the Beanstalk will be a giant production in every sense of the word.

And Richard, who's writer and director too, is proud of each and every one of them.

'The Theatre Royal is special. Everything is still in-house. It's where the whole theatre comes together,' he says.

This year is his 10th consecutive appearance. Norwich was where he made his first appearance as a dame – and Norwich is where he's stayed.

This year's production, Jack and the Beanstalk, was last staged seven or eight years ago, but apart from keeping the traditional structure of the plot Richard has opted for a very different setting for the 2010 version... a circus.

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'I see it as bringing together two of the great forms of family entertainment,' he says. 'It's the most technically-complicated one we've done, manipulating giant limbs back stage.'

And he insists the traditional family panto has a great future.

'I don't think panto will ever stop, it will always change and move on. Each generation brings along their children and they grow up and bring along their children.'

Jack and the Beanstalk runs from Tuesday, December 14 to Sunday, January 16 at Norwich Theatre Royal. For tickets telephone the box office on 01603 630000.

To find out more about Richard's decade of dames, and more pictures, read the EDP Sunday supplement in Saturday's EDP.

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