August is over! It’s almost time for the Halls to re-open - Croydon Blog 7 - August 2019

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 Halls are re-emerging from behind the hoardings! Source  https://twitter.com/ErmerlindaJ/status/1162748360631246849

The Halls are re-emerging from behind the hoardings! Source https://twitter.com/ErmerlindaJ/status/1162748360631246849

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.

L-R Nina Dunn (Video Designer), Laura Taylor (Imagine Theatre), Will Brenton (Script Writer) and Steve Boden (Imagine Theatre) met in London recently to talk through how the scripting will integrate with the set and all the other exciting things we have up our sleeves!

L-R Nina Dunn (Video Designer), Laura Taylor (Imagine Theatre), Will Brenton (Script Writer) and Steve Boden (Imagine Theatre) met in London recently to talk through how the scripting will integrate with the set and all the other exciting things we have up our sleeves!

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!

A sneaky peak of some of the design currently being built, waiting to be painted and then used for… well we can’t tell you just yet! . We can’t tell you how beautiful the overall design is. It literally takes our breath away every single time we see it.

A sneaky peak of some of the design currently being built, waiting to be painted and then used for… well we can’t tell you just yet! . We can’t tell you how beautiful the overall design is. It literally takes our breath away every single time we see it.

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.

The fabrics are so colourful and vibrant. We can’t wait to see them made up into the costumes.

The fabrics are so colourful and vibrant. We can’t wait to see them made up into the costumes.

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, July! Summer’s here and our children are cast - Croydon Blog 6 - July 2019

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.

The queue for the junior ensemble auditions went round the building!

The queue for the junior ensemble auditions went round the building!

Choreographer Lynne Thomas puts the children through their paces in front of the judging panel

Choreographer Lynne Thomas puts the children through their paces in front of the judging panel

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.

Introducing our three teams of children who will appear in Cinderella

Introducing our three teams of children who will appear in Cinderella

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.

The Wicked Stepmother costume design which will be worn by Katie Cameron

The Wicked Stepmother costume design which will be worn by Katie Cameron

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 busting out all over! - Croydon Blog 5 - June 2019

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 Imagine Theatre team all ready to go on a site visit! L-R Sarah Boden (Imagine Business & Marketing Director), Mark Walters (Designer); Steve Boden (Imagine Managing Director), Dave Edmunds (Imagine Head of Operations), Laura (graphics), Laura Taylor (Imagine Production Consultant), Greg (Fairfield Halls Technical) and George Wood (Director)

The Imagine Theatre team all ready to go on a site visit! L-R Sarah Boden (Imagine Business & Marketing Director), Mark Walters (Designer); Steve Boden (Imagine Managing Director), Dave Edmunds (Imagine Head of Operations), Laura (graphics), Laura Taylor (Imagine Production Consultant), Greg (Fairfield Halls Technical) and George Wood (Director)

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.

High vis, hard hats and PPE abound, we headed off to explore the building!

High vis, hard hats and PPE abound, we headed off to explore the building!

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!

Last time we stood here, we were surrounded by scaffolding!

Last time we stood here, we were surrounded by scaffolding!

The foyer scaffolding is all down, and the painters have moved in!

The foyer scaffolding is all down, and the painters have moved in!

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 Phoenix Concert Hall is quite a space! And it’s slowly being revealed in all its glory from behind the scaffolding.

The Phoenix Concert Hall is quite a space! And it’s slowly being revealed in all its glory from behind the scaffolding.

There are a few remaining pieces of scaffolding, mainly with painters working from them

There are a few remaining pieces of scaffolding, mainly with painters working from them

Soaking in the atmosphere of the space, the Imagine and Fairfield Halls teams can finally see the space and understand how magical Marks scenic designs are going to look

Soaking in the atmosphere of the space, the Imagine and Fairfield Halls teams can finally see the space and understand how magical Marks scenic designs are going to look

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*

Mark Walters, designer of the panto, shows Ninon (FH), Greg (FH), Emily (FH), Dave (Imagine), Chantelle (FH), Laura (Imagine) and Steve (Imagine) the white card model of the set

Mark Walters, designer of the panto, shows Ninon (FH), Greg (FH), Emily (FH), Dave (Imagine), Chantelle (FH), Laura (Imagine) and Steve (Imagine) the white card model of the set

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.

Mark Walters (Designer), Steve Boden (Managing Director, Imagine Theatre) and Laura Taylor (Production Consultant, Imagine Theatre) standing in the Royal Box of the Phoenix Concert Hall, scenic plans in hand, discussing the positioning of the band

Mark Walters (Designer), Steve Boden (Managing Director, Imagine Theatre) and Laura Taylor (Production Consultant, Imagine Theatre) standing in the Royal Box of the Phoenix Concert Hall, scenic plans in hand, discussing the positioning of the band

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 darling buds of May are shining through - Croydon Blog 4 - May 2019

Ore Oduba will play Dandini in Cinderella

Ore Oduba will play Dandini in Cinderella

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

Ore Oduba, Tim Vine, Cat Sandion, Jason Marc-Williams and Alistair Barron all star in Cinderella

Ore Oduba, Tim Vine, Cat Sandion, Jason Marc-Williams and Alistair Barron all star in Cinderella

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.

At this stage we just have a ‘white card’ model of the concept of the set. with lots more detail to follow. Watch this space!

At this stage we just have a ‘white card’ model of the concept of the set. with lots more detail to follow. Watch this space!

Fairfield Halls, Croydon gets set for a 'Strictly' sensational pantomime!

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 ShowThis 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.

TV Star & Strictly Come Dancing Champion Ore Oduba has his invitation to the Ball in Croydon this Christmas!

TV Star & Strictly Come Dancing Champion Ore Oduba has his invitation to the Ball in Croydon this Christmas!

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Cinderella stars Ore Oduba as Dandini, Comedian Tim Vine as Buttons, CBeebies Cat Sandion as the Fairy Godmother and Jason Marc-Williams and Alistair Barron as the Ugly Sisters

Cinderella stars Ore Oduba as Dandini, Comedian Tim Vine as Buttons, CBeebies Cat Sandion as the Fairy Godmother and Jason Marc-Williams and Alistair Barron as the Ugly Sisters

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.

Cinders  Kilmarnock cast.jpeg

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

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!”

Paul Morse.jpg

“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

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

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