A Beauty of a Cast for Eden Court’s Panto

Eden Court, Inverness are delighted to announce some familiar faces are returning for Beauty and the Beast this festive season.

Once more the cast will be headed up by the popular duo, panto dame Steven Wren and the hilarious Ross Allan. Chris O’Mara is also returning this year after proving a huge hit with audiences last year when he played the villainous Fleshcreep. New faces to the Eden Court panto stage are Christie Gowans as the title character, Beauty, with Rodney Matthew playing her father, Victoria Compson-Bradford as The Enchantress and Jamie Crockart as The Beast/Prince.

The partnership of Steven and Ross has proved a great hit with audiences over the last few years, and not only does Steven perform as dame but he also directs the panto. He says of their partnership:

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“Working with Ross is a treat as he’s so inventive and so funny.  We bounce off each other really well and trust each other to go with whatever spontaneous thing happens in any particular performance so that the audience knows we’re improvising around the script, but he’s disciplined enough to come right back to the story as soon as we’ve got the laugh.  We're the same sort of performers in that regard and I feel relaxed and confident on the stage with him. As a writer and director, I love the way he plays around with ideas.  Every rehearsal is new.  He never repeats himself until we’ve decided on the best variation, and that’s the one that goes into the show.  he trusts me as a director and acting partner too and that’s crucial for the relationship to work as well as it does.”

“Eden Court is populated with the most adorable people to work with.  The encouragement and support I get from the staff is extraordinary.  So that makes it a complete event for the audience.  It’s not just about what we do on stage, but it’s what the restaurant, box office, bar staff and theatre ushers do that make it a total night out for everyone.  What’s surprised me over the years is the build-up of the audience.  Something like 36 000 people see the show, and some of them come back more than once.  It’s always a wee thrill when someone stops me in the street or in the supermarket and tells me how much they’ve enjoyed the panto (not sure how they recognise me out of make-up, but I’ll leave that aside for now). The best thing about it for the audience is that they get a full story told in a funny and entertaining way that makes 3 year olds and 93 year olds laugh and smile.  For many people, it sets the mood for Christmas and I'm delighted that we can be a part of that.”

Ross Allan has had a busy year so far as he recently performed in Aberdeen in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and is currently working at the Dundee Rep. He says:

“I agree with Steven about how wonderful the audience is. The people of Inverness have really made me feel special and welcome over the last six years there and it feels like a second home to me now going in to my seventh panto season. A special mention to everyone that works at Eden Court. They are all a very special bunch of people!”

Christie Gowans is very excited to be taking on the title role of Beauty. Beauty and the Beast has been my absolute favourite fairy tale for as long as I can remember (so much so I can quote the Disney film word for word!), and I think that’s because of its poignant and enduring messages of never judging a book by its cover, always embracing your uniqueness and the power of love! It also has so many wonderful characters that capture your heart, and I particularly love Belle for daring to stand out from the crowd and always standing up for what she believes in!” 

“Panto season is the most magical and laughter filled part of my year! I’m in the Christmas mood from the first day of rehearsal to the final show day, and I love seeing the joy that panto brings to everyone of all ages.” 

Chris O’Mara is relishing getting to be wicked again this Christmas season as he takes on the role of the arrogant Eugene. “I believe my character has a lot of similarities to Gaston from the Disney version and over the last year or so I've become a bit of a gym bunny, so Gaston and I are definitely kindred spirits in that sense. We both probably spend a little too long looking at ourselves in the mirror too...!”

Beauty and the Beast runs from Friday 6 December 2019 – Sunday 5 January 2020.

For more information or to book tickets call the Eden Court box office on 01463 234234 or visit the website www.eden-court.co.uk 

Magical Line Up for The Victoria Theatre Panto

The Victoria Theatre are delighted to announce their full principal line-up for the magical family friendly pantomime Beauty and the Beast.

Joining Dame Adam Stafford and comic Josh Benson are Jenny Perry in the title role of Beauty, Richard Anthony-Lloyd as Beauty’s father Cedric, Matthew Wellman as Eugene, Sam Willison as The Prince and Lydia Rose Bertie as The Enchantress.

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Richard Anthony Lloyd hails from Yeadon in Leeds and has strong links to Halifax “I first got to know Halifax through rugby. From being smashed on a cold Sunday morning up at Ovenden playing Rugby League to playing Rugby Union for Keighley at every Halifax club over the last 15 years - it's always fun. Before embarking on the Calendar Girls tour which I have recently been in, I performed with the Halifax based theatre company Talking Stock touring with Godfrey's Last Summer playing at The Square Chapel Arts Centre in town. I have lots of friends who are active members of the theatre scene in Halifax and I was planning to direct Spamalot in the town until Calendar Girls came along. 

“I have always loved panto and the way it is so totally different to any other genre of theatre. I love the fact that every show is different and anything can happen at any time. It keeps us on our toes and is always loads of fun. I love the fact that you look the audience in the eye, break the fourth wall and ask them to participate with you in the storytelling. As a teacher I love the history behind panto as we know it and how it came about. Slapstick and panto were always my favourite units to teach!!”

Jenny has performed in a number of pantomimes, however this will be her first time playing Principal Girl.

“I have played everything else apart from principal girl as I have played principal boy, fairy and even villain (Wicked Witch of the West), but it’s my first time as a princess so I'm very happy to tick off the last box!”

“I love the story of Beauty and the Beast. Obviously the Disney films were a big success, but I also think it's one of the few pantos where the heroine takes control of her situation and doesn't need rescuing! She is strong-willed, clever and kind, which are characteristics everyone should aspire to have!”

Sam Willison played Prince Michael in last year’s production of Snow White and is delighted to be back and Beast/Prince for this year.

“My favourite part of performing at The Victoria Theatre last was the audiences we had. They were full of energy and loved to get involved in all the action! Also the front of house staff and crew that we were very lucky to have! They always had a smile on their face and made it a lovely place to work.”

Get your tickets now for this ‘beauty’ 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

Josh is a smash hit in Halifax!

When we decided to introduce new panto comic Josh Benson to Halifax, we knew it’d be a fun day. We didn’t realise just HOW MUCH fun it would actually be!

Hailing from York, Josh is very much a Yorkshire lad. This year he joins the cast of Beauty and the Beast at the Victoria Theatre, Halifax as the comic, playing the role of ‘Josh’ (see what we did there?).

Whilst Josh is new to Halifax audiences, he is absolutely no stranger to panto, having taken Chesterfield audiences by storm last year.

Josh has got some big shoes to fill, taking over the role that Neil Hurst inhabited for 10 years. However, all those who met him around Halifax recently will vouch for the fact that those shoes will be more than filled by Josh’s wonderfully effervescent personality, amazing comic timing and brilliant clowning ability.

Knowing how much the Halifax panto audiences love a custard pie or 10, we decided that the best way to introduce him to the town would be just that - a pie in every location!

We thought we’d take you through our day so you can see what we got up to! (and keep an eye out on social media for the video!)

Getting a pie in the face outside Harvey’s

Getting a pie in the face outside Harvey’s

Erm, are you sure you’re allowed to do that, Josh?

Erm, are you sure you’re allowed to do that, Josh?

Off to Halifax Borough Market…

Off to Halifax Borough Market…

Next up it was time to head to the Piece Hall (after bumping into the Halifax pink running man, but we didn’t get any photos) - surely Josh was safe from the custard pies here??

Next up it was time to head to the Piece Hall (after bumping into the Halifax pink running man, but we didn’t get any photos) - surely Josh was safe from the custard pies here??

Josh was very relieved to hear there were not going to be any pies at the Library, just a chance to borrow his favourite book, “Josh’s Joke Book”.

Josh was very relieved to hear there were not going to be any pies at the Library, just a chance to borrow his favourite book, “Josh’s Joke Book”.

Surely the staff at Eureka won’t pie Josh? Nope, wrong! Of course they will.

Surely the staff at Eureka won’t pie Josh? Nope, wrong! Of course they will.

Surely Josh is going to be safe outside the Minster with Revd Canon Hilary Barber?

Surely Josh is going to be safe outside the Minster with Revd Canon Hilary Barber?

Introducing Josh to some critical panto props

Introducing Josh to some critical panto props

Josh met Theatre Manager Tim Fagan - who was the first to put a pie in his face!

Josh met Theatre Manager Tim Fagan - who was the first to put a pie in his face!

We headed to Harvey’s to film - and the staff had fun pie-ing Josh (again!)

We headed to Harvey’s to film - and the staff had fun pie-ing Josh (again!)

I want to ride my bicycle….

I want to ride my bicycle….

Josh stops off to get himself a ‘new job’ card at Paper Wishes in the market

Josh stops off to get himself a ‘new job’ card at Paper Wishes in the market

…. and another pie in the face outslde Woresman’s Greengrocers, courtesy of Mick from Grosvenors butchers.

…. and another pie in the face outslde Woresman’s Greengrocers, courtesy of Mick from Grosvenors butchers.

Nope, of course not! This time it was a pie courtesy of Al’s Emporium!

Nope, of course not! This time it was a pie courtesy of Al’s Emporium!

Josh, we DEFINITELY know climbing up there isn’t allowed!

Josh, we DEFINITELY know climbing up there isn’t allowed!

5 minutes of down time outside the Minster…

5 minutes of down time outside the Minster…

Ha ha ha! Of course not. Nice shot Revd Hilary!

Ha ha ha! Of course not. Nice shot Revd Hilary!

The final visit of the day was to Shibden Hall… and naturally they wanted to play the new game ‘let’s pie Josh’ too!

The final visit of the day was to Shibden Hall… and naturally they wanted to play the new game ‘let’s pie Josh’ too!

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

A Beauty of a Cast for the Adam Smith Panto

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This year’s pantomime at The Adam Smith sees a variety of new faces and old in the magical tale of Beauty and the Beast.  Greg Powrie returns to play Dame following on from his 2016 appearance as Ugly Sister in Cinderella with Kim Shepherd as The Enchantress and Colin Little as Beast/Prince. Jillian Cunningham takes on the role of Belle, Adrian MacDonald will play the hilarious Cameron McKlinkie, David Rankine will be playing the odious Balloch Bennochy and James Barrie will be playing Beauty’s Father, Hugh.

Greg is delighted to be spending the festive season at the Adam Smith once more. “Appearing at The Adam Smith is something of a homecoming. Thirty-eight years ago I appeared in a Scottish Youth Theatre production at the Adam Smith, called What A Way to Run a Revolution; it was my first real taste of theatre, a fantastic production, and an experience I never looked back from. The rehearsals for the 2016 production of Cinderella took place in exactly the same room, and even after all that time there was something reassuringly familiar about the building. Secondly, and more importantly were the audiences as they took us to their hearts very quickly, and the response show after show was phenomenal! You are quite close to them at the Adam Smith, and I like that.”

Dame is one of the most iconic roles in pantomime and Greg says of playing it “I think there is a curious amnesia that comes with playing the Dame. It is utterly exhausting, and every year I sort of forget that! A Dame is only as good as his company, and I've been very lucky in that respect. I do enjoy the freedom that can go with the part, and probably enjoy it most when the unexpected happens, and that is a lot! Having license to interact with the audience is, of course, the best bit, but it always comes with a risk; you have to think fast and be ready to seize any opportunity!”

Colin Little is most used to playing the baddie and is looking forward to the challenge of a slightly different role this season. “Last year I was Abanazar at the Adam Smith and I do usually play the baddie which is great fun but this year I get a taste of both worlds in a way as the Prince, who is then turned in to the Beast, is not a particularly nice character at the start of the show but by the end he has been redeemed.”

Adrian MacDonald will be appearing in his first pantomime this year.  “I have appeared in quite a few children’s shows but I have never done panto before so I am very excited. It will also be my first time stepping out to the Adam Smith stage and I am really looking forward to starring in such a well-loved show and looking forward to having some fun and making some panto magic.”

Beauty and the Beast runs from Saturday 8 December 2018 until Saturday 5 January 2019.

To book tickets to please contact Adam Smith box office on 01592 583302 or visit www.onfife.com

Open Auditions for the Junior Ensemble for Southport's Beauty and the Beast

On Saturday 15 September local youngsters are being invited to take part in open auditions for Southport Theatre's Beauty and the Beast. The auditions are open to children aged 9-16* who would like to be part of the Junior Chorus. *Please see the venue page on our website for more information. - http://www.imaginetheatre.co.uk/pantomimes/2018-beauty-and-the-beast-southport

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Kirkcaldy Beauty and the Beast Junior Chorus Auditions This Friday

On Friday 24 August we will be holding open auditions for children aged 9-16* for the Junior Chorus of Beauty and the Beast at The Adam Smith Theatre, Kirkcaldy. *Please visit the venue's page on our website for more information - http://www.imaginetheatre.co.uk/pantomimes/2018-beauty-and-the-beast-kirkcaldy

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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.

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 the Princess 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.

Record Breaking Season for De Montfort Hall

More people than ever have come to see the pantomime in Leicester this year, De Montfort Hall has revealed.

Production photograph: Pamela Raith

Production photograph: Pamela Raith

The record-breaking attendance has, for the first time, broken through the 30,000 mark.

Since reintroducing pantomime at the Hall in 2013, attendance has been growing year on year, with this year marking a new record, not just for pantomime but for any previous Christmas show at the venue.

Ticket sales for Beauty and the Beast were so strong they had overtaken the previous year’s after just the first week of performances.

A total of 30,278 tickets were sold across the 38-show run, which starred Dick and Dom’s Richard McCourt and X Factor winner Sam Bailey, an increase of 10% on last year’s show.

Special schools performances were sold out in the first week of the run, and the relaxed performance for people with an autistic spectrum condition or communication disorder also proved very popular.

De Montfort Hall general manager, Antony Flint, said: “We are really pleased that so many people have come to watch our pantomime this year. Leicester folk of every generation have really taken it into their hearts and it’s become a real family tradition to come and watch the panto each year.

“We are already planning next season’s show – Peter Pan – and are looking forward to bringing a bit of panto magic back for Christmas 2018.”

Peter Pan is proving a popular choice, with hundreds of tickets already being sold during this year’s run.

Councillor Piara Singh Clair, Deputy City Mayor and Lead on Culture, Leisure and Sport, said: “The pantomime is a great boost for Leicester, attracting thousands of extra people and revenue into the city each day and we are really pleased that so many people have been able to enjoy these shows.”