Libby McArthur and Barbara Bryceland to Star in Aladdin at FTH Theatre

FTH Theatre Falkirk are delighted to announce that television star Libby McArthur and singing sensation Barbara Bryceland will be starring in their magical family pantomime Aladdin this Christmas.

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Libby, who will be playing the Empress, is a familiar face on Scottish television as she played Gina Hamilton in River City for eleven years as well as appearing in Taggart, Take the High Road, Hamish Macbeth and Rab C Nesbitt. She was also a founder member of the 80s pop group Sophisticated Boom Boom.

“I have appeared in two pantomimes prior to this, both times in Cinderella. I was at The Palace in Kilmarnock as the Wicked Step Mother and then later with Sally Howitt, who appeared in Cinderella here last year, as the Ugly Sisters. This will be my first time on stage at FTH Theatre and I am really looking forward to it.”

“I have memories of attending panto as a child with my school and being utterly engaged, enchanted, engrossed, encapsulated. Panto, like all good storytelling, is taking the risks for us, scaling the heights and plummeting to the depths that us ordinary mortals can only wish we could navigate, but with panto at least we are taken along for the ride!

“The thing I am really looking forward to about Aladdin more than anything else, is that most Scottish of traditions, the fourth wall collapsing, the banter when the weans chip in! Oh and just panto itself - Christmas, the whole pomp and ceremony and the agreement that we are all of us, just big weans!”

Barbara appeared on both The X-Factor and The Voice, and starred as Fairy Godmother in FTH Theatre’s first professional pantomime Cinderella last year and this year will be playing the magical Spirit of the Ring. She says “I absolutely loved appearing in panto last year as the cast and team were fantastic. It was my first pantomime and so was a great learning experience for me and I cannot wait to tackle a new role this year.”

Aladdin runs from Friday 6 – Tuesday 24 December 2019 so hurry and get your tickets before they fly out of the door!

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

Adam Stafford Is ‘Dame’ For a Laugh at The Victoria Theatre This Christmas

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The Victoria Theatre are delighted to announce the return of dame Adam Stafford for their magical family pantomime Beauty and the Beast this Christmas.

 Adam was last at the venue two years ago for their smash hit production of Aladdin and is delighted to be returning for the show he made his Victoria Theatre debut in back in 2012, Beauty and the Beast.

 “As well as loving Halifax itself, I love performing at the Victoria Theatre. It's a proper old theatre and the audiences are always very appreciative and the theatre staff and crew are friendly and welcoming. I was sad not to get to do panto last year but I was living in Beijing directing a play for their Chinese National Children's Theatre which was a great experience.”

 In addition to Beauty and the Beast Adam is currently doing some work for Alton Towers on the new live Teletubbies show and developing a new musical. He also manages a tribute show, Suspiciously Elvis which has played all over the world. Before travelling to Halifax for the festive season he will also be directing a production of Aladdin near his home in London.

 Adam adds, “Panto is very close to my heart and I really love playing dame. It is a lot of hard work but great fun as well. The one bit of advice I would give to anyone wanting to play dame is don’t grow a beard as they always need shaving off for the panto season!”   

 “I am really looking forward to working with the hilarious Josh Benson as my new son this Christmas.” 

 Get your tickets now for this ‘beast’ of a show! Beauty and the Beast runs from Saturday 14 December 2019 until Sunday 5 January 2020.

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

Palace Theatre Panto Stars Return for a Magical Cinderella

The Palace Theatre are delighted to announce the return of four hugely popular panto stars this Christmas. Fraser Boyle will be sporting an array of outrageous costumes once more as an Ugly Sister, with James McAnerney as his equally vile sibling, the hilarious Gary Morrison as the loveable Buttons alongside the Ali Cleland as the villainous Wicked Stepmother.

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A spokesperson for The Palace said “Fraser, Gary and James have become huge favourites over the last few years and are an instrumental part of The Palace’s family focused style of pantomime and Ali received great acclaim (and plenty of boos) as Carabosse in last year’s Sleeping Beauty. Here at The Palace we pride ourselves on offering a top-quality pantomime which is suitable for all of the family to enjoy, and these performers are all a key ingredient in the success of pantomime due to their huge popularity with the panto audiences.”

This is Fraser’s fourth year as Dame and he is delighted to be back, “I have so many memories and things to look forward to every year at The Palace Theatre. From everyone who works backstage and front of house (and all our Christmas nights out!) there’s always a great team spirit and carry on to be had. I should probably say we all work hard too! But if I had to pick one favourite thing about The Palace panto I’d say it’s the audiences. This will be my fourth year at The Palace and I’m beginning to remember schools, groups and familiar faces in the audience. It’s so wonderful to see families who I recognise from the year before in the auditorium again. I feel so privileged to be able to play a part in their Christmas traditions. My Granny always took me and the rest of her grandchildren to see a pantomime every year and those memories are some of the happiest I have with my nearest and dearest. That’s what Christmas is all about. To be part of that now, as an actor, is something very special to me -  it always inspires me to give a little more (sometimes a little more than is in the script!), to make each and every performance unique and just for them. After all, without the audiences encouraging us all to make eejits out of ourselves we’d be performing to a wall!” 

Although the role of baddie is familiar to James McAnerney, less familiar will be the numerous hilarious and elaborate costumes he will be wearing as an Ugly Sister. He says “I played Dame Bella Straw (bale of straw) when I was at college in Jack and the Beanstalk and I have also played an ugly once before at Cumbernauld Theatre in their production or Cinderella but that was quite a long time ago. I am really looking forward to playing an ugly sister because it is a Dame that has been crossed with the panto baddie – two of the best roles in panto in my opinion. It is also great that you get to work so closely with the other Ugly Sister and the icing on the cake is that the other Ugly Sister is Fraser.”

“I’m so looking forward to working with Fraser and Gary again, as I think they bring so much warmth, passion and energy to the production and to the audience. And they are also great cast members to work with both on stage and off. This year I will get to work even closer with Fraser, which will be great. Although I didn’t think I would find myself saying to him, “you will need to give me some make up tips, and how to walk in heels!”

Gary could not agree more with his fellow cast members “My favourite thing about The Palace panto is without doubt the welcome that the audience gives us each year; they truly are fabulous. Also, working with Fraser and James is so much fun and a real pleasure, which definitely transfers across to the audience. We have been lucky enough to have been asked back for a number of years now and we know what The Palace audiences like and how much they are up for some festive fun!”

Ali is delighted to be back for her second year in The Palace Panto. “I loved being the baddie last year and I’m super excited to be keeping my ‘evil’ streak going. I really got into character last year by pranking some of my cast mates offstage, especially Fraser Boyle! I’ll be taking that craftiness and mischievousness back with me this year! Can’t wait!! 

Don’t miss out on the magical family panto Cinderella this festive season. The show runs from Saturday 23 November to Sunday 29 December 2019.

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

 

Drip drip drop, little April Showers…. - Croydon Blog 3 - April 2019

Outside, time ticks on, and the signs of spring grow ever stronger. Inside the Imagine offices, April has been a month of huge activity on Cinderella at the Fairfield Halls, mixed in with the occasional shower (but thankfully no thunderstorms!) here and there! April showers really did live up to their name in the world of Cinderella.

 

First comes a casting shower! We are delighted to be able to announce that our Ugly Sisters have been cast! Jason Marc Williams and Alistair Barron join the Croydon cast, bringing within them a wealth of experience in pantomime. Both have appeared in the Imagine Theatre pantomimes for the past 3 years, and promise to be hilarious…. if their past on stage performances and photo shoot antics are anything to go by! They are outrageous and great fun for the whole family. There’s also some HUGE casting news to hit during May so keep your eyes peeled! We’re super excited.

Jason and Alistair get in front of the camera

Jason and Alistair get in front of the camera

 

There’s also been a shower of design work completed by Mark Walters! He’s sent the first design concepts through now, and we’re moving onto the next stage which is the white card model. We are so excited. The designs are absolutely stunning, and we can’t wait to let you in on some of the ideas we’ve been working on! More about that in our later blogs 😊

What an amazing place (with a fabulous name!)

What an amazing place (with a fabulous name!)

 

25th April saw a deluge of photos being taken as the stars of Cinderella gathered together for the photo shoot. Tim Vine, Cat Sandion and our ‘Uglies’ Jason and Marc were joined by a fifth, “yet to be announced”, cast member! We spent the day at Cherry Duck Studios in Wapping, and created some great content to share with you over the coming months. We hope you enjoy the behind the scenes images we’ve shared with this blog.

How much makeup does it take to turn the Ugly Sisters Ugly? Answer - quite a lot!

How much makeup does it take to turn the Ugly Sisters Ugly? Answer - quite a lot!

 

The venue will be launching their first brochure shortly, the work on the space is progressing really well, and all is on schedule for the re-opening in September.

So, we move into May and all the progress and excitement that will bring – watch out for our next update… oh, and that exciting casting news!

Tim Vine has Videographer Ben and Laura from Imagine in utter hysterics as he’s recording his videos. We had to retake it several times as all you could hear was the whole room laughing out loud behind him!

Tim Vine has Videographer Ben and Laura from Imagine in utter hysterics as he’s recording his videos. We had to retake it several times as all you could hear was the whole room laughing out loud behind him!

Jo adds the finishing touches to Jason’s makeup

Jo adds the finishing touches to Jason’s makeup

Jason Marc Williams and Alistair Barron play the Ugly sisters - and sometimes things didn’t quite go to plan at the photo shoot!!

Jason Marc Williams and Alistair Barron play the Ugly sisters - and sometimes things didn’t quite go to plan at the photo shoot!!

The amazing Cat Sandion from CBeebies plays the Fairy Godmother (thanks for making her look AMAZING, Jo)

The amazing Cat Sandion from CBeebies plays the Fairy Godmother (thanks for making her look AMAZING, Jo)

The utterly hilarious Tim Vine plays Buttons. He had us crying with laughter the whole day - here he is with his pet Boa…. don’t ask!

The utterly hilarious Tim Vine plays Buttons. He had us crying with laughter the whole day - here he is with his pet Boa…. don’t ask!

Who on earth does the fifth pair of shoes belong to?

Who on earth does the fifth pair of shoes belong to?

Selfie Time

Selfie Time

Cat grabs 5 minutes to put her feet up

Cat grabs 5 minutes to put her feet up

Alistair goes for the understated look

Alistair goes for the understated look

Craig and Laura are checking out the photos of Cat

Craig and Laura are checking out the photos of Cat

Panto Favourites JP and Sean Return to The Spa Centre for Another Fairy Tale Year

The Royal Spa Centre are delighted to have JP McCue and Sean Dodds returning for another festive season in their magical family pantomime Snow White this Christmas.

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 JP’s panto career at The Royal Spa Centre began with Snow White back in 2012 when he played Will the Jester.

 “I'm so excited to be returning to this fairy tale in a brand-new version for 2019 and even more thrilled to be playing Dame this time around. The comic is such a fun role but with the Dame there are more opportunities to be cheeky and cause a bit more mayhem and that is one of my favourite hobbies as anyone who has seen the previous Spa Centre pantomimes will know!”

 “It really is so special to me coming back to Leamington year after year, the town really is my Christmas home and I have so many wonderful memories of panto. Most of my onstage memories are of things going wrong, as that really stays with you; from forgetting lines to falling over far too much - it's all part of the fun and makes each show exciting for everyone, audience and cast members alike. The Spa Centre is a lovely, happy place to call home over the panto season. All the staff have always been so kind to me and I still get butterflies in my belly walking into the building for the first time each season even after seven years. Seeing how the panto has transformed over the last few years especially gets me excited to see where we can take it with Snow White and perhaps beyond.”

 Sean Dodds is also delighted to be back in his panto home for the season and to be re-united with his comedy panto partner JP.

 “The best thing about working with JP is that we both know how each other works and I enjoy the fact that if I want to do a bit of improvisation he will go along with it and vice versa! We also have a great relationship off stage as well which is why I think our chemistry is so good! It's like performing with a best mate!” 

 “For me, the best thing about panto has to be the freedom of it all; when we get into rehearsals we have a script and stage directions, but that is just the framework, the real fun is trying out new things and binging a bit of spontaneity into the performance. The way I see it is the more fun we have on stage, the more fun the audiences have coming to watch it! “

 With some performances already sold out The Royal Spa Centre recommend booking your tickets now to avoid disappointment. Snow White runs from Saturday 7 December 2019 – Sunday 5 December 2020.

 For more information or to book tickets please call 01926 334 418 or visit www.royalspacentreandtownhall.co.uk

Justin Fletcher and Paul Morse Return for a Ball 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 Cinderella.

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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 eighth panto appearance at The Hexagon but his first as Buttons.

Justin says " I am really looking forward to playing Buttons at The Hexagon. It is always nice to play the comic as he's a friend of the audience, as well as a friend to Cinderella. It's so wonderful to have that interaction with families and see them laughing and joining in with the show as that is what panto is all about.”

Paul, who has appeared in six pantomimes at the venue, is delighted to be returning as Dame, and says of the show: “Cinderella is the classic rags to riches tale which we can all believe and hope in. It has to be one of the most magical pantomimes of them all with an extra-large dose of comedy and slapstick to go with it. It is my seventh time in Cinderella and I just adore it!”

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“What I love about panto season is the reaction of the audience, we are so lucky in Reading that the audiences are always there in full voice and ready to have a good time. I get a lot of letters from families telling me they come every year and that Christmas officially starts once they have been to our show, it's such a joy to be a part of their Christmas tradition and what a wonderfully British bonkers tradition it is!”

“This will be mine and Justin’s fifth year working together and it is a real joy. It's a great feeling when you work as a double act as dame and comic do, that whatever happens on that stage we can run with it, support each other and have the pay off getting a laugh from the audience. I think the audience picks up that we are both having a great time together and making each other laugh which is infectious for an audience and they can feel safe in the knowledge they can join in and have a good time with us too.”

Don’t miss your chance to see Justin and Paul in the magical family pantomime Cinderella which runs from Saturday 7 December 2019 – Sunday 5 January 2020. With last year’s Aladdin 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

5ive's Ritchie Neville to Appear in Southport's Jack and the Beanstalk This Christmas

Southport Theatre are delighted to announce that 5ive star Ritchie Neville will be playing the title role in their spectacular family panto Jack and the Beanstalk this Christmas.

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Ritchie shot to fame in the late 90s, aged just seventeen, when the band released the single ‘Slam Dunk (Da Funk)’. They went on to sell over 40 million records world-wide including ‘Keep on Movin’ and ‘If Ya Getting Down’. The band teamed up with rock legends Brian May and Roger Taylor from Queen to open the BRITS and took ‘We Will Rock You’ to number one in the UK.  They also performed two sell-out world tours and had four number one albums.

Ritchie moved to Australia, returning to the UK for The Big Reunion reality documentary and tour and appearing in the first series of Channel 4’s The Jump. Ritchie is now a regular presenter on Hits Radio with a Sunday slot celebrating the hits of the 90s and 00s as well as still performing all over the world with 5ive.

Ritchie is no stranger to panto having appeared in Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast and says about appearing in panto in Southport this year: “I am over the moon to be stepping back into panto-land.  I’ve never played Jack before and it is going to be a lot of fun and laughter.”

Emma Lloyd Creative Director said: “Last year’s panto was the most successful since 2012 and we received amazing feedback from audiences. We see pantomime as a hugely important element of our yearly programme and part of our long term plan to develop a programme of fantastic, top-quality theatre alongside music, comedy and more.”

“Ritchie Neville in the starring role is amazing, a huge draw for us and we look forward to presenting something very special with our partners Imagine Theatre this year”.  

Steve Boden, Managing Directing of Imagine Theatre, “We are delighted that Ritchie will be performing in Jack and the Beanstalk in Southport for us this Christmas. He is a really strong performer and has a cheeky chappie personality which is perfectly suited to the role of Jack.” 

“The popularity of the panto has been growing steadily in the last few years and we are promising another fantastic show this year. We had sell-out performances last year so we recommend booking tickets early.”

Don’t miss this GIANT of a pantomime. Jack and the Beanstalk runs from Friday 13 – Sunday 29 December 2019.

To book tickets call the box office on 01704 500036 or book online at www.waterfrontsouthport.co.uk

 For more information or to book tickets call 01704 500036 or visit waterfrontsouthport.co.uk (booking fees apply)

Marching into Cinderella - Croydon Blog 2 - March 2019

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Whenever we’re asked what we do and we respond that we’re pantomime producers, one of the questions we can guarantee we’ll get asked is “what do you do for the rest of the year?”. Our response is always to explain that, pantomime is for life, not just for Christmas! It may seem like we’re a long way from panto season 2019, but here at Imagine we’ve been working on this particular production of Cinderella for a year already. Bearing this in mind, when we tell people that we’ve been busy working on pantomime in March, we do get some very strange looks!

 Focus is still very much on Mark Walters (designer) and the designs he has planned for Cinderella. He and George Wood (director) recently met to discuss the creative vision for the show and how the scripting, design and musical planning will all hang together. We can’t wait for the next production meeting when Mark presents his thoughts to us in more detail.

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 Sarah and Laura from Imagine also headed down to central London to meet Kevin and Emily from the Fairfield Halls marketing team to finalise the marketing plan and timeline. It’s really strange talking about planning to use the digital screens inside a building when we can’t actually see them, only plans and diagrams of what they will look like and where they will be positioned!

 Casting is well and truly under way. The production team are now in talks with agents to bring the rest of the cast together to surround the already announced Tim Vine and Cat Sandion. More announcements on this soon!

 We are also delighted to welcome a couple more members of the production team to the ‘Cinderella Family’. John Young joins us as production manager for the project, and the fabulous Jamie Corbidge joins us as lighting designer. We’re thrilled to have both of them on board for the project and their reputation and expertise in the theatre industry speaks for itself. We’ll do more of a feature on them both in later blogs. This production of Cinderella really is going to be something special.

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 This month also saw Fairfield Halls have a visit from a real Royal Prince! Prince Edward visited the venue to check up on the progress of the refurbishment. It’s great to know that a Royal Prince has checked out the suitability of the Halls for us in advance of panto!

 The other news that we’d like to share is the date of the children’s ensemble auditions. It’s Sunday 30th June and auditions are to be held at Braithwaite Hall. We’re looking for 3 teams of 8 children to take part in the show. More information can be found at http://www.imaginetheatre.co.uk/pantomimes/2019-cinderella-croydon.

 These auditions are open to all children of all backgrounds and performance experience, who are in year 4 and no younger than 9 years of age on the first day of rehearsals (Saturday 23rd November 2019) to year 11 and no older than 16 years of age on the final performance (Sunday 5th January 2020). Please note that the auditions are for dance only. We will not be asking children to sing or act. You don’t need to register with us in advance – just turn up on the day. We’d love to see as many young people as possible for registration at 9:30am on Sunday 30th June.

 So off we head into April, looking forward to seeing what it has in store for us all!

Photos by Kevin Quilty, Head of Marketing, Fairfield Halls

X-Factor Star Andy Abraham to Appear in Rotherham Civic Theatre Panto

Rotherham Civic Theatre are delighted to announce X-Factor star Andy Abraham will be starring in their spectacular family pantomime Sleeping Beauty this Christmas.

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Andy was dubbed ‘the voice of the people’ when he appeared on the show in 2005, coming runner up. He has since gone on to record four studio albums, one of which reached number two in the charts, performed in numerous UK tours as well as being the UK’s entry in the 2008 Eurovision Song Contest.

He is also no stranger to theatre having appeared in the UK tour of Boogie Nights and the West End hit Respect La Diva, as well as countless pantomimes all over the country. Prior to panto season Andy will be touring the UK in The Nat King Cole Songbook.

Sleeping Beauty marks the second year that Imagine Theatre will be producing panto in Rotherham and Steve Boden, Managing Director of Imagine Theatre, says “We are delighted to be returning to Rotherham for this year’s festive season. Last year’s production of Dick Whittington was a great success and we got some wonderful feedback from audience members. We are really pleased to be working with Andy Abraham for the first time this year, and his fabulous vocal talent means we are all particularly excited about the musical numbers for the show.”

Steve says “Sleeping Beauty is one of the UK’s most loved pantomimes. As many people may know, it tells the story of a Princess who is cursed by the wicked fairy Carabosse so that upon her eighteenth birthday she will prick her finger on a spinning wheel and fall into an enchanted sleep. Of course for our version we have added all the traditional elements of pantomime with a larger than life dame and a hilarious comic, lots of fun slapstick routines and elaborate musical numbers. It is definitely going to be another great show this year.”

Rotherham Council’s Cabinet Member for Cleaner, Greener Communities, Cllr Sarah Allen added: “The Civic Theatre panto is always something to look forward to and this year will be no exception. I know I certainly enjoyed it! I am delighted to hear that Andy will be joining the cast for this year’s production of Sleeping Beauty.”

Sleeping Beauty runs from Friday 29 November 2019 until Sunday 5 January 2020.

To book tickets call the box office on 01709 823621 or visit www.rotherhamtheatres.co.uk

Open Auditions for Junior Dancers for Cinderella at Fairfield Halls

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On Sunday 30 June Fairfield Halls will be holding open auditions for children to be part of the Junior Ensemble in their magical family pantomime Cinderella.

The auditions are open to boys and girls aged 9-16 in school years 4-11 at the time of the production and those successful in obtaining a part in the show will be starring alongside comedian Tim Vine and CBeebies’ Cat Sandion.

Steve Boden, Managing Director of Imagine Theatre who are producing the pantomime, says “this will not only be our first time producing panto in Croydon, but the first pantomime to take place in the newly refurbished Fairfield Halls which is very exciting.”

“We will be looking for 3 teams of children to take part in the show, and as well as dancing ability we look for children who have that special something extra that makes them stand out from the crowd.”

“We like to hold open auditions as it gives any child of the right age who wishes to take part a chance, regardless if they attend a dance school or have any previous experience, this audition is open to everybody and it’s a great opportunity for children from the local community to get involved and appear at this amazing theatre.”

“Performing in a professional production is a fabulous and rewarding opportunity for the children and is always a lot of fun, but it is also a lot of hard work.”

Full details on the auditions, including further information on age and attendance requirements and regulations, as well as the application forms can be found on Fairfield Halls website or www.imaginetheatre.co.uk. Application forms do not need to be submitted in advance although where possible please complete them beforehand and bring with you to save time on audition day.

Please note that due to the refurbishment of Fairfield Halls the auditions are taking place at Braithwaite Hall in Katherine Street.

Cinderella runs from 10th December 2019 to 5th January 2020.

Tickets start from £15 and are already on sale so grab your tickets to the best ball in town!

Online – Fairfield.co.uk

Phone – 0203 292 0002

Groups 10+ - 0203 292 003