Popular Panto Stars Return to Beacon Arts Centre

The fabulous Sleeping Beauty brings the family pantomime magic back to Beacon Arts Centre this year…and she’s bringing a few familiar faces along with her!

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Jane McCarry will be wicked once more as the evil Carabosse with Mark Cox as Cludgie the Henchman. Jimmy Chisholm also returns with Lee Samuel as they revive their popular pairing as Dame and Comic.

Still Game favourites Jane and Mark, best known as Isa Drennan and Tam Mullen in the hugely popular sit-com (which has just celebrated its eighth series on UK screens) have become a key ingredient of the increasing success of the Beacon pantomime over the last few years.

While Greenock audiences love to see the pair perform, it turns out that the feeling is mutual as both Jane & Mark love performing panto in Greenock. Mark says “The audience at the Beacon is the warmest I have ever played in front of, they are just amazing.”

This year, Mark will once again be playing sidekick to Jane’s evil character Carabosse. “Jane and I go way back. From drama college to hit television show and we just love working together because we know each other so well as friends and as actors. Never a dull moment!”

Lee Samuel is also full of praise for his on-stage comedy partner Jimmy Chisholm. “We have such a laugh working together and over the years we have developed a great chemistry on and off the stage. Jimmy is a force of energy and fun. He is a very generous and professional actor and is happy to share the comedy with me and the other cast members.”

“I love panto but my favourite bit is always the song sheet. There is nothing better than seeing the whole audience up dancing and singing along at the top of their voices with age groups ranging from toddlers to great grandparents and before you know it even the most reluctant member of the family is joining in! It’s great to see the whole family having fun and getting into the Christmas spirit as that is what panto is all about!”

Joining the cast this year are Martine McMenemy as Queen Matilda and Nikki Horsburgh as Princess Beauty.

Steve Boden, managing director of Imagine Theatre who produce the show says “We are delighted with the increasing popularity of the Beacon Arts Centre panto over the last few years. The reviews last year were amazing and I am confident we will put on another fabulous show this year.”

Sleeping Beauty runs from Friday 7 until Monday 31 December 2018.

For more information or to book tickets to the show call the box office on 01475 723723 or visit www.beaconartscentre.co.uk

Eden Court Panto Cast Announced

Eden Court are delighted to be able to announce their full cast for this year’s gigantic family pantomime Jack and the Beanstalk.

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Once again Steven Wren will be both directing and starring in the show as Dame Trot as well as being the lead scriptwriter. The hilarious Ross Allan returns to play Jack with Marj Hogarth as the Fairy and joining the team this year are Chris O’Mara as the villainous Foosty McScunner, Graham MacKay-Bruce as the King and Jennifer Neil as Jill.

Ross Allan is delighted to be returning to Eden Court, and in particular to be playing the title character. “It is great that I get to play Jack – hopefully it means I get the girl this year. My only reservation is that I'm slightly scared of heights so no idea how I'll cope with the beanstalk!”

“I love working with the multi-talented Steven Wren!! It never really feels like work when you get the chance to work with friends, and we get on really well together both on stage and off.”

New to the Inverness panto team this year, Chris O’Mara cannot wait for his first appearance at the venue. “This is the first time I’ve performed at Eden Court, but the theatre’s reputation precedes itself! I performed in many amateur pantomimes when I was younger but last year was my first professional panto, playing the Prince and the Beast in Beauty and the Beast. It was so much fun - there is no better feeling in live performance than having an audience shout at you, and you’re allowed to shout back!!”

“I am really looking forward to playing a baddie I think it’s every performer’s dream to have hundreds of children booing and hissing at you on stage!! I’m so looking forward to becoming the villain, that I’ve been scowling at children I pass in the street, evil laughing whenever I see someone trip up, and stealing sweets from babies! But seriously, I’m thrilled to have the chance to switch it up and become the bad guy for a change!”

Steve Boden, Managing Director of Producer’s Imagine Theatre, says “we are thrilled to have Steven Wren and Ross Allan back as they work so well together on stage and the Eden Court audience love them. Having played the baddie in her last few appearances I can’t wait to see Marj playing the goodie for once! We have a great cast with an hilarious script, not to mention a fantastic giant, so we promise another fabulous show this festive season.”

Jack and the Beanstalk runs from Tuesday 4 Dec until Sunday 6 January 2018.

For more information or to book tickets call the Eden Court box office on 01463 234234 or visit the website

Casting Announcement for Southport Beauty and the Beast

Imagine Theatre along with Southport Theatre, following its takeover by Bliss Hotels, are delighted to announce that panto will be back this year with the magical tale of Beauty and the Beast.

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The show will star and also be directed by Sam Kane. Sam, who previously appeared in Brookside and Emmerdale, played Buttons in last year’s highly acclaimed Cinderella. This year he is taking on the role of Eugene in one of the most popular fairy tales of them all. He will be joined by Jason Marc-Williams as Dame and Alistair Barron as comic.

Beauty and the Beast is a story that has got everything. It's the perfect family show. It's got an ingredient in it that I adore in a pantomime.... heart. The jeopardy of the rose petals falling and having to fall in love before the final petal falls creates a brilliant tension that keeps everyone gripping their seat.  Mix all of that with fabulous comedy, traditional panto routines and great songs and you've got yourself a perfect trip to the theatre at Christmas time.”

Sam adds “The character of Eugene in the panto has a lot of similarities to Gaston in the Disney version. The weird thing is this has ticked a massive box for me. I was actually offered the role of Gaston, in the Disney musical version of Beauty and the Beast at the Dominion Theatre in the West End. I didn't take the role for a host of reasons and I've regretted those decisions ever since. Now 20 years later I'll finally get to play one of the best roles in theatre. I get to be vile and awful and get laughs for it and I can't wait! Southport Theatre is a great place to spend the festive season. The audiences were amazing also the staff and back stage crew at the venue were an absolute delight and I can't remember a single day from last panto season that wasn't a happy one.”

Jason is delighted to be returning to Southport. “I love being in Southport at Christmas and I really enjoyed working with Sam last year so I am excited to be working with him once more, as well teaming up with Alistair again as he is a really close friend and we always have a great time working together.”

Beauty and the Beast runs from Friday 14 - Sunday 30 December 2018.

Fairy Tale Cast for Halifax Panto

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It is not just the weather that is hotting up in Halifax – panto fever is also getting in to full swing at The Victoria Theatre and they are delighted to be able to reveal some of their casting for this year’s magical family pantomime Snow White.

Neil Hurst is returning for his tenth panto season to play Jingles the Jester and he is being joined by Jolyon Dixon as Dame Dolly Mixture, Tom Milner as Prince Michael and Felicity Skiera as the Wicked Queen.

Neil says: “There are many things that make playing the comic role so much fun, the sketches, the daft costumes, the song sheet; but probably the best part for me is the interaction I get to have with the audience. The audience is the extra character in every panto and every audience reacts in a different way so for me the not knowing what we are going to get, reaction wise, is exciting and the best part of being the comic.”

Neil has just finished a UK tour of the Kay Mellor’s Fat Friends the Musical and he is about to start filming Agatha Christies' The ABC Murders alongside John Malkovich and Rupert Grint before starting work on a radio drama for the USA called The Adventures of Robin Hood.

Neil will not be the only local performer with Halifax’s Tom Milner joining the cast as Prince Michael. Tom has appeared on The Voice as well as in Waterloo Road and has recently recorded his first album as well as touring America, Jamaica and Europe.

Dame, Jolyon Dixon, is very excited to be spending his first panto season at The Victoria Theatre. “I have heard great things about the venue and I am really looking forward to playing such a big and beautiful looking space and working with the legend Neil Hurst. I adore panto and in playing the dame I get to wear all these amazing frocks, but it’s the interaction with the audience and making them laugh that is the biggest reward.”

Felicity Skiera has appeared as principal boy in both Jack and the Beanstalk and Aladdin and is delighted to play such a different role this year.

“I have always wanted to play the Wicked Queen in Snow White so I am really excited. I have enjoyed playing Jack and Aladdin but cannot wait to be wicked this year and get the audience booing me!”

After a smash hit success with Aladdin last year The Victoria Theatre recommend buying your tickets early for the fairest panto of them all.

Snow White runs from Thursday 13 December 2018 until Saturday 5 January 2019.

For more information or to book tickets please contact the Victoria Theatre box office on 01422 351158 or visit www.victoriatheatre.co.uk

Hayley Tamaddon to Star in Aladdin in Newark

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The most mystical panto of all, ALADDIN, flies into the Palace Theatre, Newark this Christmas with magic carpets, genies and all!

Starring soap star Hayley Tamaddon as So Shi as well as an amazing supporting cast. Hayley is best known for playing Del Dingle in Emmerdale and Andrea Beckett in Coronation Street as well as winning Series 5 of ITV’s Dancing On Ice. Hayley has also had an extensive musical theatre career, having played lead roles in Thoroughly Modern Millie, Chicago, Grease, A Chorus Line, Boogie Nights, Mamma Mia, Fame, The Rocky Horror Show and Spamalot. Hayley is delighted to be returning to the stage for pantomime:-

“I absolutely love appearing in pantomime, it is such a special time of year. It’s one of the few chances for the whole family to come along to the theatre and enjoy themselves together. I can’t wait to appear in this production of Aladdin, it’s one of my favourites and I also hear Newark is great for Christmas shopping!”

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Joining Hayley is Newark panto favourite Tim Freeman who Palace Theatre audiences will remember from last year’s Beauty & The Beast as Dame Dorothy Do-it, this time he will be donning fabulous frocks as Aladdin’s mother Widow Twankey.

Producer of the pantomime, Imagine Theatre’s Managing Director Steve Boden says: “We are delighted to be returning to the Palace Theatre with another fantastic family pantomime. Aladdin is one of the best as it’s full of adventure and fun. We are also thrilled to be working with Hayley Tamaddon who is not just a TV personality but an amazing stage performer, and also to be welcoming Tim Freeman back. It’s going to be a great show and we hope to build on the success of last year’s Beauty & The Beast”.

This year’s pantomime will feature all of the magic ingredients you’ve come to expect with big song and dance numbers, lots of slapstick comedy, romance and bags of audience participation, oh yes it will! Aladdin is one of the most popular panto titles of all and tells the rags to riches story of a poor son of a laundress who has big dreams. When he falls in love with the Princess he wants to do everything he can to win her heart. Will Abanazar thwart the course of true love or will Aladdin succeed with a little help from the Genie of the Lamp? Bring the whole family along to the Palace Theatre, Newark this Christmas to find out.

Aladdin runs from Friday 7th December to Monday 31st December 2018.

Beauty of a Cast for the Kilmarnock Panto

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The Palace Theatre in Kilmarnock are delighted to announce that River City star Leah MacRae will be starring alongside Palace panto favourites Fraser Boyle and Gary Morrison in their magical family pantomime Sleeping Beauty.

Leah MacRae is best known for playing Ellie McLean in River City, a role she had played since 2014. She has also starred in Gary Tank Commander and Rab C Nesbitt as well as appearing in numerous pantomimes. Before panto begins she will be starring in a yet to be announced show at The Palace Theatre as well as filming River City.

Leah says “Pantomime is so special as it's the first time most children step into a theatre. It creates lasting memories. It was whilst watching pantomime for the first time ever that I realised I wanted to become an actress and I often think to myself that panto is an important job because there might be a little version of me sitting there having that realisation for the first time too.” 

Fraser and Gary have appeared as Dame and Comic for the past two years to great acclaim and have an excellent rapport both on stage and off.

Fraser says “Gary is brilliant. He's so easy going and always joking with me backstage, and on stage he's a pleasure to work with as well. He's very good at his job and I trust him completely which is a pure joy when doing pantomime together. We tune into one another too - at points during Dick Whittington, we both said the exact same unrehearsed punchlines, at exactly the same time with exactly the same physical actions.”

Gary is equally complimentary about Fraser “Working with Fraser is just fantastic, we clicked straight away and were on the same wave length from the start. Our comedy works really well together, to have that bond is so important between the comic and the dame as it makes for a great fun show.”

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“I just love panto and have some wonderful memories from the last few years. My favourite moment would have to be doing the song sheet in Dick Whittington last year, the whole audience were up dancing and singing along with age groups ranging from toddlers to grandparents and they were all just having a fantastic time, that to me is what panto is all about.”

A big part of playing dame is the number of changes throughout the show in to increasingly elaborate costumes. Fraser’s favourite costume from the last few years was in Beauty and the Beast. “For the finale my costume was a Christmas tree. And it wasn't easy! I had around 40 seconds to get out of one costumes and put an entire Christmas tree on! It was always a frantic dash but it looked amazing. I had baubles, tinsel - even a star on the top - then we'd do a final dance. It was the most cumbersome, impractical costume to dance in but people couldn't stop laughing. I looked like a lunatic! It was so well made and a proper pantomime spectacle. I cannot wait to see what I get to wear this year.”

Before panto season arrives Fraser is busy writing for The Dolls for their second full length tour and hoping to film a full length comedy sketch show with Gary, along with other writing and teaching projects. Gary will soon be appearing in Pinocchio at Motherwell Theatre in the roles of Geppetto and Freddy Fox.

Don’t miss out on the magical Sleeping Beauty. The show runs from Saturday 24 November to Sunday 30 December 2018.

To book tickets to please contact The Palace Theatre box office on 01563 554900 or visit www.enjoyeastayrshire.com

Stars of Falkirk’s First Professional Panto Announced

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Panto-goers in Falkirk are set for a ball this festive season with the spectacular family panto Cinderella. FTH have teamed up with Imagine Theatre, one of the country’s top pantomime producers, to stage their first professional pantomime and they are delighted to be able announce that the show will star River City’s Sally Howitt as the Wicked Stepmother and Falkirk’s own Barbara Bryceland as Fairy Godmother.

Sally Howitt is a familiar face across Scotland due to her role as Scarlett Adams in the highly popular River City.  Sally has appeared in pantomime in Kilmarnock for the last two years and is delighted to have been asked to perform in Falkirk this season.

“I am really excited to be part of Falkirk’s first professional pantomime and cannot wait to be a baddie again as it is so much fun. I enjoy the live performance of panto and there is nothing like hearing the whoops of excitement from the audience as the lights go down and knowing you are about to take them away from real life for a few hours into a magical story, and Cinderella is one of the most magical of them all!”

Barbara Bryceland shot to fame on the X Factor back in 2007 and quickly became a household name throughout Scotland and was back on our screens in 2012 in The Voice, being mentored by the legendary Tom Jones. Barbara now performs all over the world and is excited to be taking on the challenge of her first ever pantomime in the town she now calls home.

Steve Boden, Managing Director of Imagine Theatre, says “We are very excited about producing Cinderella in Falkirk this year and we promise to put on a stunning show with a fabulous cast, an amazing set and costumes and a lot of hilarious slapstick. Having worked with Sally in the past we know what an amazing baddie she is, and Barbara has such a wonderful voice she is just perfect for the role of Fairy Godmother.”

The show runs from Friday 7 – Monday 24 December 2018 so hurry and get your tickets to the ball.

To book tickets to please contact box office on 01324 506850 or visit www.falkirkcommunitytrust.org

Sam Bailey set to sing her heart out with panto return at De Montfort Hall

X-Factor winner and Leicester favourite Sam Bailey will be starring in pantomime this Christmas at De Montfort Hall.

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De Montfort Hall and Imagine Theatre have announced her return alongside BBC Radio Leicester’s Martin Ballard, in this year’s family pantomime Peter Pan.

Sam Bailey is back for her third consecutive year, winning the hearts of theatre-goers last year with her phenomenal singing voice in the Hall’s best-ever panto, Beauty and the Beast.

Sam, currently starring in the UK tour of Fat Friends, said of her return “I’m so excited to be back in Leicester this Christmas. I love doing panto – it’s such a great show for families and it’s really fun to do. This year Peter Pan is going to be amazing.”

Martin Ballard will don a frock once again to play the loveable Dame character with further star names for the rest of the cast to be announced shortly.

Antony Flint, De Montfort Hall General Manager, said “We are absolutely delighted to have Sam and Martin back on board. Over the last few years they have proved themselves to be pantomime favourites. We hope to build on the success of last year’s panto and things are already looking good with this year’s ticket sales at a record high. We are looking forward to announcing further star castings shortly.” 

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Peter Pan will take audiences on a magical adventure to Neverland, as the Darling children meet Tinker Bell, the Lost Boys and of course the villainous Captain Hook. There will be flying (no ladders though!), fairy dust, traditional songs, dance, slapstick and a ticking crocodile – everything that makes a traditional De Montfort Hall pantomime.

Auditions will be held in June for the junior chorus and the roles of John and Michael. Further information on this will be available shortly at demontforthall.co.uk

Peter Pan runs from Saturday 15 December to Sunday 6 January 2019. Adult tickets from £14.50, with children and group rates available. For more information or to book tickets call 0116 233 3111 or go to demontforthall.co.uk

Justin Fletcher and Paul Morse Return for More Panto Fun at The Hexagon

The Hexagon are delighted to announce that both children’s TV megastar Justin Fletcher and award-winning panto dame Paul Morse will be back in Reading this year for the magical family pantomime Aladdin.

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Justin Fletcher is adored all over the country for his numerous children’s shows such as Justin’s House, Gigglebiz and Something Special, starring Mr Tumble.  He received an MBE in 2008 and has won numerous BAFTA Awards.
 
This will be his seventh panto appearance at The Hexagon and his second as Wishee Washee.

Justin says "I love playing Wishee Washee because he's a friend of the audience. It's so wonderful to have that interaction with families and see them laughing and joining in with the show."

He is also pleased to be re-united with on-stage mum Paul Morse. "Paul and I have worked together for quite a few years now and he's a lovely guy. He is a very generous performer and the longer we work together the stronger the chemistry on stage."

As always Justin will have a very busy year before returning to panto-land with live appearances all over the country in both theatres and at festivals as well as filming another series of the BAFTA Award winning Gigglebiz.

Paul, who has appeared in five pantomimes at the venue, says: “It's lovely to come back to the Hexagon as the theatre staff are so welcoming and supportive and the audiences really do come along to join in and kick start their Christmases.

“One of the highlights of playing a dame is always the fabulous costumes and the costume department at Imagine know the more bling the better! 

This will be Justin and Paul’s fourth year working together and Paul says of their partnership “We work very well together and having worked with each other so closely we have great in-sync rhythm and energy and just know what the other one is doing or going to do and the other can go along and support it in the moment. At the end of the day if Justin and I are having fun, the audience can feel that and it's infectious, before you know it even the most reluctant member of the family is joining in!”

Don’t miss your chance to see Justin Fletcher and Paul in the magical family pantomime Aladdin which runs from Saturday 8 December 2018 – Sunday 6 January 2019. With last year’s Peter Pan proving a smash hit with audiences The Hexagon recommend booking tickets early.

For full details call the box office on 0118 9606060 or log on to www.readingarts.com

 

Junior Chorus Audition Dates 2018

Here are some early dates for children's auditions for our 2018 pantomime season (several more audition dates to follow soon)