The Fairfield Halls are now reopened! Take a peak with us, plus some casting information and a sneaky look at the set. Yes! We did say a sneaky look at the set….Read More
August has been another busy month in the world of Cinderella at Fairfield Halls, Croydon. Most people have been enjoying their summer holidays but not so for the team working on the show! The temperature has been rising in the design studios and workshops across the country.
Things are progressing well over at Fairfield Halls. Work is almost complete, and the seats are all fitted back in the Phoenix Concert Hall, where we will be performing. There are painters and decorators everywhere. The venue is well on track for its re-opening in just 2 weeks’ time!
The first piece of panto related news to announce is that we welcome Nina Dunn on board as our Video Designer Nina is a really exciting appointment for us. Nina has worked on some amazing theatrical productions recently including 9 to 5 at the Savoy Theatre and the tour of In The Night Garden. This is the first panto that Nina has worked on and the first time that Imagine have included so much video content into one of their shows. The ideas being discussed are really exciting and we can’t wait to see the finished product. Nina is working very closely with the designer Mark Walters to ensure that the A/V content of the show has the right feel and style to the rest of the show. Having video content in the show has certainly got the creative juices flowing within the creative team.
The second big piece of news to share with you is that the script is well under way and our writer is confirmed. This is the last part of the project to fall into place.
We’re absolutely delighted to welcome Will Brenton on board as the writer of Cinderella. We’ve not said much yet about the technology integration within the show, but with his experience in theatre, arena shows, TV and panto script writing, Will became the obvious choice. Will has written many pantos for us and also directed and is currently working as a director on the TV show Emmerdale. We’re looking forward to receiving his first draft of this new version of the show.
The set build is well under way. The newly created Imagine Theatre Scenic Workshops, overseen by Dave Edmunds our Head of Operations, are working their magic to bring Mark Walter’s beautiful set designs to life. Imagine has always been able to build scenic elements - we’ve now just made the set up a little bigger. Things are progressing along well with the build, and we should have some photos to share with you soon but in the mean time there’s a sneak peak below. It’s possibly one of the most complex builds we’ve ever undertaken or worked on, whilst also being deceptively simple in its look. We can’t wait to share it with you!
Dawn Outhwaite, Head of Wardrobe for Imagine Theatre, is overseeing the costume makes. Mark Walters costume designs compliment the set beautifully. We have a whole team working with Dawn to bring Mark’s vision to life. Dawn recently went fabric shopping with Mark, our designer. Here’s an idea of some of the fabric colours they chose, and she and the team are now working with.
So, we move onwards into September, and the venue is almost ready for its handover, the gala re-opening with Dame Judi Dench on Monday 16th September. It really is all go in Croydon!
July is nearing its end and August is almost upon us. That means there’s less than 4 months to go until Cinderella at Fairfield Halls goes into rehearsals!
The main event to update on is that our children’s ensemble is cast! The Imagine team had a fantastic day at the end of June casting our three teams of 8 children. The queue was so long that it snaked around the building and there was a huge amount of excitement in the air from both the children and their families there to support them. It was extremely exciting to see the buzz that is already being created around the production and the joy generated through an opportunity that allowed children from all backgrounds between the ages of 9-16 to audition for their chance to be a part of the Fairfield Halls pantomime.
139 young people took part in the auditions and the standard was amazing. Our Choreographer Lynne Thomas really had to put them through their paces. The morning cuts led to recalls in the afternoon, and a closely fought but very supportive and friendly second round. Casting the final teams plus a team of reserves was tough but we’re thrilled to introduce you to them. They’ll attend all rehearsals but then split the run between them.
In another casting update, we’re delighted to welcome two more principal cast members to the team. American actress Katie Cameron will play the Wicked Stepmother and James Bisp plays Prince Charming. Katie has worked for Imagine twice before and has always been an absolute smash hit. She played the Wicked Queen in Snow White at the Hexagon, Reading for us in 2016 to rave reviews and will bring her own unique New Yorker twang to the part. She really is fabulous! James is new to Imagine but we’re really excited to work with him and to see how he and Ore Oduba work in the double act of Prince/ Dandini.
It’s been a busy month in the world of costume design. Our amazing designer, Mark Walters, has now finished the costume designs and we’ve started to commission makers. They are fabulous and tie in beautifully with Marks set design and colour palette for the show. Here’s a sneak peak of one of the fabulous designs Mark has done for the Wicked Stepmother.
We’ve also started to make some big progress on the set build. We’ll update you more on this in future months.
Last week also saw another production meeting for the show at our offices in Coventry. This time it was the turn of Production Manager John Young and Lighting Designer Jamie Corbidge to get together with the Imagine head office team of Laura Taylor and Dave Edmunds, to start the detailed planning of how the set will fit up, the lighting designs will work and to understand how all the technology which forms such a critical part of the production will integrate together. To watch John and Jamie’s reactions to the designs and ideas was great for us to see. The concept and model are consistently getting extremely positive and excited feedback and we can’t wait to share it with you!
We’ve been asked on several occasions by people working on the show whose concept this show is? Well, we’re very proud to say it’s the brainchild of our MD Steve Boden, who came up with the principals and concepts of how he visualised this production working. His ideas were then turned into a design concept by the amazing Mark Walters. We will run a more detailed story about it in the coming months, once we have more images of the set build to share. It really is something different and exciting!
So, we move onwards into August, where we will start to physically be able to hold set pieces and costumes. Script work will continue to progress well, and the venue will be nearing its handover, ready for the re-opening on 16th September and its first gala concert on 18th September. It really is all go in Croydon!
June is almost over and the rain we’ve endured has reminded us more of April showers rather than the start of summer, but in panto world things are literally busting out into full bloom!
The most exciting thing that’s almost in full bloom is the Fairfield Halls building itself. There’s still significant work to be done, but when we went for a site visit on 19th June we couldn’t believe how much the building had progressed since we last saw it.
Most of the scaffolding is now down and most excitingly the painters have moved in – a sure sign that work is nearing completion and focus in some areas is starting to move onto the decoration and cosmetics. It’s an absolutely beautiful building, and the amazing central staircase in the main foyer really is a location fit for Cinderella to lose her glass slipper on!
For the first time we were able to walk onto the main stage area of the Phoenix Concert Hall, where the panto is being staged. When we took the decision not to use the Ashcroft Theatre but to play the panto in the much bigger concert hall auditorium, all we were able to see was ground plans. We couldn’t walk on the stage, and we couldn’t visualise the auditorium as it was all covered in scaffolding. Now that almost all of the scaffolding has been removed it’s a completely different picture and we’re so excited to see just how amazing the space really is. It’s quite something.
The other project about to bloom is Mark Walters incredible set design. We know we keep on about it, but it is truly a thing of genius. The world of Cinderella that Mark has created is something to behold, and for the first time we were able to talk the team at Fairfield through Mark’s ideas and reveal his white card model. They were speechless. What we can tell you is that the design requires over 550m of LED tape, and is completely unique in the world of pantomime. The white card model just takes your breath away. We did take a sneaky picture of it… but unfortunately Mark himself got in the way so you can only see the edges *wink*
We’re now in the stages of the set starting to be built. It won’t be long before the first pieces of metal are being welded and the first canvas pieces being stretched.
The Marketing team at Fairfield are also ‘busting out’ with the venue’s very first brochure about to doormat. They have an incredible first season lined up, with so many events that the Imagine team want to go and see! It’s the real sign of progress within the venue, knowing that it’s now less than 3 months until the public can walk through the door and the first events take place.
Finally, Sunday 30th June sees the first ‘scheduled event’ in the Fairfield Halls calendar with the children’s auditions for Cinderella. We’re expecting to see hundreds of children all bursting into dance and showing us their talents. We love children’s auditions days as the standards are always incredible. Our auditions are open to EVERY child from EVERY background and take place at Braithwaite Hall. Registration is from 9.30am for a 10am start. As we are expecting a massive turn out, please be aware that we will cap it at the first 350 to turn up, so make sure you’re there early if you’re planning to audition! More details can be found about it at http://www.imaginetheatre.co.uk/pantomimes/2019-cinderella-croydon
So, we move onwards into July, where we expect set builds to be well under way, costume designs to be finalised and commissioned and further progress made on the building, script, casting and marketing. It’s an exciting time!
Photos by Sarah Boden from Imagine Theatre
The spring sun is shining, the grass is growing well and the buds are breaking out on the trees, leaving a fresh carpet of green and the feeling of fresh, new beginnings. It’s no different in the world of pantomime with the buds of our ideas starting to burst out into full blown concepts and progress.
May is the time when casting starts to fall into place, costume and set designs are being finalised, scripts are being written and the final pieces of the production and creative team are falling into place.
The most exciting bud to spring into life this month is the announcement that TV Star & Strictly Come Dancing Champion Ore Oduba will be joining us at the Ball this Christmas to play Dandini. Whilst he is no stranger to theatre and stage performance, and he’s a brilliant ‘song and dance’ man, this will be Ore’s panto debut. Click here to see the ‘official’ press release
It turns out that Ore already knows his co-stars Tim Vine and Cat Sandion well, as they’ve all worked together in the past. When they met up at our recent photo shoot, it was like three pals who’d known each other for years having a good catch up over a cuppa. Along with our two outrageous Ugly Sisters Jason Marc-Williams and Alistair Barron, there was a lot of laughing going on. This all bodes well for the panto.
Another bud which is really starting to burst through this month is that of the marketing of the venue and the show. Work is still progressing really well on the building and all is on schedule for the re-opening in September, but we’ll talk more about that in a later blog. Building a marketing campaign from scratch, as the team at Fairfield Halls are having to do, is a huge undertaking. Luckily there is a brilliant team in place, led by Kevin Quilty.
The printing of the venue brochure is under way, and it is due out any day with a brilliant programme of events planned for the opening season. It’s a massive sign that the venue is ready to burst into life and to return to what it does best – providing absolutely top-class entertainment. We’re thrilled to not only be bringing Cinderella to the Halls, but we’re also Justin Live starring CBeebies super star Justin Fletcher. That production will be at Fairfield Halls over October half term, on 22nd & 23rd October 2019.
The set and costume design ‘bud’ has so nearly also burst into flower. Mark Walters is continuing work on the designs, and every time we see them, they literally take our breath away. We’re so excited about his designs and cannot wait to tell you more about them. It’s unlike anything you will have ever seen in the pantomime world before. We just can’t quite tell you yet…
So, it’s onwards into June where we will see the final designs of set and costume before they head off to the workshops to be made, and the auditions for the children’s ensemble, which take place on Sunday 30th June. We cannot wait.
Imagine Theatre and Fairfield Halls, Croydon are delighted to announce that TV star and Strictly Come Dancing winner Ore Oduba will be making his pantomime debut as Dandini in this year’s family pantomime, Cinderella.
Ore will be known to audience members young and old from his many TV appearances including The One Show, This Morning and of course winning the fourteenth series of Strictly Come Dancing with his partner Joanne Clifton. Ore will be joined by the previously announced comedian Tim Vine as Buttons and CBeebies presenter Cat Sandion as Fairy Godmother.
Ore says:- ‘I have been wanting to do pantomime for a long time and when this opportunity came up I just couldn’t say no. Not only is it alongside two of my pals Tim and Cat who I have worked with before, but I also can’t wait to appear in the first pantomime at the newly refurbished Fairfield Halls.
Although it’ll be a new experience for me, many people will know I’m rarely happier than when I’m on stage singing and dancing. And, of course, anyone who’s seen me and Craig Revel Horwood on the Strictly Live Tour (often in a precarious position!) will know I do love a bit of Panto. With this cast and creative team - and some amazing audiences in Croydon - I know there’ll be a lot of laughs along the way. I can’t wait to get started’.
Producer Steve Boden says:- ‘Ore was the perfect addition to the star line-up for our pantomime at the Fairfield Halls and we are thrilled that he’s making his pantomime debut with us. He will be amazing as Dandini. Along with Tim and Cat I think this pantomime really does deliver something for everyone and is perfect family entertainment for the festive season. We promise that this is going to be a spectacular show and we are busy working on a brand new production especially for the Croydon audiences. Everyone will be able to enjoy this show from small children right up to grandparents, because that is what pantomime is all about, creating memories with the family’.
The eagerly awaited refurbished Fairfield Halls opens in September and the pantomime will be at the heart of the Autumn/Winter season.
Will the evil Ugly Sisters thwart the path of true love for Cinderella and her Prince Charming or will her Fairy Godmother help save the day? Bring the whole family along to the Fairfield Halls this Christmas to find out, you’ll have a ball!
Cinderella runs from 10th December 2019 to 5th January 2020.
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.
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 😊
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
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
It’s a month now since Imagine Theatre were announced as the producers of pantomime at the Fairfield Halls, Croydon, and it’s been quite a month for us!
Even though Imagine have produced pantos all over the country for almost two decades, this project is unlike anything we have ever worked on before. Why is this? It’s because whilst the building is still being refurbished and isn’t open to the public, we’re not able to actually go into a venue, look around and work out our plans from a physical space. Sure, the concert hall actually exists and we’ve stood on the stage – but it’s full of scaffolding. We know there are lifts in the floor, but we can’t see them because they’re covered in protective cladding. We know there will be seats in the auditorium, but we can’t sit in them to work out sight lines because they’re not actually there. We can’t even see from the back of the space to the stage as the scaffolding is so thick.
So what can we work with? Lots of plans (and we mean LOTS) and lots of measurements (and we mean LOTS!).
Cinderella is going to be unique and exciting. It’s going to be a family focussed pantomime suitable for all the family with some really amazing wow moments, but played in the unique setting of a concert hall rather than a traditional proscenium arch theatre. It’s a blank space, and we have to take it from a space suitable for orchestras and choirs, to the magical, exciting and vibrant realm of pantomime.
To create a project like this takes real team work, and each person doing their bit at the right time.
Initially it’s the job of Mark Walters, our designer, to come up with the concepts for the show. It’s his amazing vision which will bring the world of Cinderella alive. And to say that he held 8 adults utterly spellbound at the second production meeting on Monday 25th February is an absolute understatement. His ideas are remarkable, his concepts are ingenious, and his imagination is endless. We sat open mouthed as he described his vision for bringing Cinderella’s world to life.
Mark’s brief isn’t just to design the set, but also to bring the costuming to life, and again his thoughts and ideas were breath-taking.
We will let you into a bit more of the secret as the year progresses and Mark’s ideas start to turn from ideas on paper into set models and then finally into the reality of a full production.
In the meantime, the work continues. Cinderella at the Fairfield Halls is going to be an amazing experience. Don’t miss out, because trust us, if Mark’s design concepts are anything to go by, Cinderella really will go to the ball, and blow you away all at the same time.