Cinderella Is Throwing Us Into a Spin-derella! - Croydon Blog 1 - February 2019

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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.

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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.

Justin Fletcher Brings Family Fun to Theatres This Autumn

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Justin is on the road again with his all singing and dancing show JUSTIN LIVE!  Justin stars in the CBeebies smash hit television shows Gigglebiz, Something Special, Jollywobbles and Justin’s House. He has also provided character voices for Tweenies, Boo, Toddworld, Shaun the Sheep and many many more. He has also received numerous children’s BAFTA’s for his work and in 2008 was awarded an MBE for his services to television and to charity organisations. In the eyes of a whole generation he is a superstar.

 Given his hectic schedule and huge popularity it is a huge coup for Imagine Theatre to be co-producing Justin’s self-penned show Justin Live! this autumn.

 Justin Live! is a show written and performed by Justin himself. He promises lots of songs, laughter and fun for all the family. There will be some custard pies too! Producer Steve Boden from Imagine Theatre explains how the show came about:

 “At Imagine we have worked with Justin Fletcher for a number of years on various projects and Justin Live originated a few years ago after Justin expressed an interest in developing a live show to give children their first taster of a live theatrical experience. The select dates we have done over the last few years were a huge success and we are thrilled to be able to give the children (and adults!) of the UK and Ireland an opportunity to experience Justin Live!. It is a fabulous, fun, action packed, interactive show which gets everyone involved, and the children absolutely love it!”

 Steve goes on to say, “Historically the show has sold out so we do recommend booking tickets as early as possible to avoid disappointment.”

 Justin cannot wait to begin the tour and says “I am very excited about doing the show once again and getting to meet so many new friends. The support and warm welcome I receive from my audiences is just wonderful. I look forward to seeing you all soon!”

The tour will be going to Eastbourne, Poole, Croydon, Salford, Northampton, Watford, Dublin, Belfast, and Derry. Visit the Justin Live page on the Imagine Theatre website for dates and further information.


Pantomime returns to the Fairfield Halls, Croydon with Cinderella starring Tim Vine and Cat Sandion

Fairfield Halls in Croydon are teaming up with production company Imagine Theatre to bring the most magical pantomime of them all, Cinderella, to Croydon audiences in December 2019.

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The eagerly awaited refurbished Fairfield Halls opens in September and the pantomime will be at the heart of the Autumn/Winter season. The family pantomime will star comedian Tim Vine as Buttons and CBeebies star Cat Sandion as the Fairy Godmother.

Tim Vine is a comedian and presenter, known for his one-liner jokes, and his role on Not Going Out. Tim frequently sells out his stand-up tours and has released a number of DVDs of his comedy and has written several joke books. In 2010 and 2014, Vine won the award for best joke at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. His many TV appearances include The Royal Variety Show; ITV’s ‘The Sketch Show’ which won a BAFTA. He appeared in 5 series of the award-winning sitcom ‘Not Going Out’ and he played Beach the Butler in series two of Blandings. Other TV shows include Live at the Apollo, Q.I, winning Celebrity Mastermind, hosting ITV game show ‘Don’t Blow The Inheritance, a regular on Celebrity Squares, a regular on Countdown’s Dictionary Corner. And for Comic Relief he appeared on ‘Fame Academy’, dancing on ‘Let’s Dance’ as Justin Timberlake and playing darts on ‘Let’s Play Darts’ as well as popping up in a Downton Abbey spoof. And on Celebrity Total Wipeout he fell off everything! He is one of this generations best comedians and is perfect for panto with his family friendly humour.

Cat Sandion will be instantly recognisable to the younger members of the audience. Cat is one of the leading presenters on the BAFTA Award winning channel CBeebies is best known for her singing and dancing, she brings her energetic moves and catchy songs to many pre-schoolers and parents alike with her hit show Magic Door! Cat has been a firm favourite on CBeebies over the past few years, besides her residency in the CBeebies house she has also been a part of numerous shows and pantos most notably with her roles as Alice in Alice and Wonderland and Tinker Bell in Peter Pan and also as a main character in the hugely successful Justin's House.

Producer for Imagine Theatre, Steve Boden says ‘We are absolutely thrilled to have been asked to produce the pantomime at the Fairfield Halls. We have secured a brilliant and highly experienced creative team coupled with the casting of Tim and Cat, this show is already shaping up to be an absolutely spectacular show which will be suitable for all the family. We hope to bring a show that has everything, a magical story, big song and dance numbers, hilarious slapstick comedy, bags of audience participation and some special effects that have never been seen in pantomime before. There will also be some further star casting announced later in the year so watch this space’.

Neil Chandler, General Manager of the Fairfield Halls, Croydon says:- “It was always important to us that pantomime, being historically such a large part of the Fairfield program, was relevant and exciting for both the Croydon audience and our wider community. Our partnership with Imagine Theatre allows us to create a pantomime that is exclusive to and reflective of our diverse borough. Just as many other London boroughs have steered away from the formulaic brand of pantomime we are surrounded by we are proudly presenting what will be a very traditional and family focused production”

The show will be directed by George Wood, formerly Associate Producer of First Family Entertainment. During his career George has worked on over 200 pantomimes. George has directed numerous pantomimes including Cinderella at the Manchester Opera House and the Milton Keynes Theatre, Sleeping Beauty at the Churchill Theatre, Bromley, Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs at the Hawth Theatre, Crawley.

Cinderella will be designed by Mark Walters. Mark is a well-established professional theatre designer, working in the industry for over 20 years and with a highly regarded reputation for his pantomime designs at theatres throughout the UK.

Choreographer on the pantomime is Lynne Thomas. Born and educated in Croydon Lynne went on to achieve the inaugural first class BA honours degree at London Studio Centre.  Working as a dancer and dance captain she travelled the world with the award winning Princess Cruises production shows.  Time in the original West End production of ‘The Producers’ and subsequent tour was followed by tv commercials, west end choreography, children’s television and choreographing the 90th festival of Remembrance with the BBC.  This is Lynne’s 10th year teaching and heading the dance programme at Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, as well as choreographing the annual BA MT course musical and end of year West End showcase.

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.

Tickets start from £15 and go on sale today

Online –

Phone – 0203 292 0002

Gigantically Great Review for Eden Court's Jack and the Beanstalk

 Jack and The Beanstalk, Eden Court Theatre, 2018

“the sense of fun was evident from the start in this panto which edged towards being sweet and funny rather than being loaded with adult-friendly double entendres…the youngsters in the audience loved it.”

Please click here to read the full review in the Press & Journal

Excellent Review for Greenock's Sleeping Beauty

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“This was my third year attending the Beacon Arts Centre panto and its one that I always recommend….For me, what makes the Beacon panto so wonderful is that it doesn't need to rely on special effects to create magic. The beautiful sets are a million times better than any fancy 3D screens and the costumes are spectacular. This is a traditional panto with a fresh script and terrific cast that will make you feel full of festive joy!”

Read the full review here.

Purr-Fect Review for the Spa Centre Panto

We are delighted by our fabulous review from the Leamington Courier

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Cats have tended to fare pretty well as fictional heroes in entertainment through the ages.
Puss in Boots, 'rebooted' in the massively popular Shrek films, is one example. Hollywood A-Listers Michelle Pfeiffer, Halle Berry, and Anne Hathaway have all appeared as the Catwoman.

And, of course, the movie phenomenon which was Marvel's Black Panther was released in February. Having the feline character as the action star of the show works just as well for this year's Leamington pantomime Dick Whittington.

Chris Gage as the titular character's sidekick Tommy the Cat brings an acrobatic energy to the stage, which is a welcome new addition to dame and writer JP McCue's tried, tested and successful formula. Throughout the show, multi-talented Gage displays tumbling and martial arts skills and even dons a pair of roller blades at one point.

He's worth the admission fee alone, but there's a lot more going on here. McCue is in top form and obviously delighted to bring another of his scripts to the Spa Centre stage cracking in-jokes with his right-hand man and generally- and genuinely - funny bloke Sean Dodds as Silly Simon.

Again, and as expected, the pair are a driving force behind the weird and wonderful antics which ensue. Returning as the villain, Denise Pitter proves again that she's good at being bad in her role as Queen Rat

And a happy coincidence for the show is that with his north eastern accent, Kieran Morris might remind some of Declan Donnely, who is again currently entertaining TV audiences with his cheeky style on I'm A Celebrity.

The story - about rise of a London folk legend - is serviceable and, as ever with McCue's scripts, allows the various cast members to tie easily together some famous songs ranging from Abba's Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight) to A Million Dreams from the recent musical film sensation The Greatest Showman. If the latter will, no doubt, appeal to the younger audience members there's also references to the 'flossing' dance craze and the sounds of the earworm song Baby Shark which will grab their attention. And with familiar 'custard pie', UV dance, Twelve Days of Christmas and 'look behind you' routines thrown in there's plenty in this show for panto goers young and old to sink their claws into and to be left purring contently afterwards.

Please click here to read the review online

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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

Cinderella Cast Set for a Ball at FTH Theatre This Christmas

FTH Theatre are delighted to announce the full casting for the spectacular family pantomime Cinderella.

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As previously announced River City star Sally Howitt will be playing the Wicked Stepmother, Baroness Demonica, with local singing sensation Barbara Bryceland as the Fairy Godmother. Joining them are Craig Glover and Derek McGhie as the Ugly Sisters Sadie and Senga, Christie Gowans in the title role of Cinderella, John Winchester as the loveable Buttons, Adam Morgan as the dashing Prince Charming and Scott Watson as Dandini.

Derek McGhie is delighted to be playing one half of the most despicable duo in panto-land having previously played Ugly Sister two years ago in Kirkcaldy.

“The best thing about playing an Ugly is that you have a partner in crime to share the madness with - it’s two for the price of one! I love playing an Ugly Sister as you get to be bad, daft and outrageous all at the same time. And the costumes are always hysterical!”

 “I have never worked with Craig before but we have been friends for a long time and have even spent time on holiday together. In fact the first time I played an Ugly Sister it was Craig I went to for advice on make-up!  A double act is always easier when you know and trust your partner.”

“I am really looking forward to spending the festive season at FTH. I have a lot of friends in Falkirk and am often in town, I’ve been to the Falkirk Wheel and The Kelpies but have never visited the theatre. I think it’s always exciting to discover a new theatre space and to perform to a whole new audience.” 

Christie Gowans who is playing Cinderella says “Cinderella is probably the most iconic fairy tale Princess and I am very excited at getting to play her. The moment when the Fairy Godmother transforms her into a Princess for the ball is truly magical.”

The show runs from Thursday 6 – Monday 24 December 2018 so hurry and get your tickets to the ball.

To book tickets to please contact box office on 01324 506850 or visit

Junior Ensemble Auditions for The Palace Theatre, Newark Panto

The Palace Theatre in Newark are holding open auditions for children aged 9-16* to take part in their spectacular family panto Aladdin this Christmas. The Auditions are being held on Sunday 16 September and more information can be found on the venue page on our website*. -

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A ‘Purr-fect’ Cast for The Royal Spa Centre Panto

The Royal Spa Centre in Leamington Spa are delighted to announce their casting for the ‘purr fact’ family pantomime Dick Whittington.

The fabulous J P McCue and the hilarious Sean Dodds are back by popular demand and joining them are Denise Pitter as Queen Rat, Kieran Morris as Dick Whittington, John Fagan as Ralph, Georgina Newton as Alice, Ashley Joseph as Tommy the Cat and Kirstie Smith as Fairy Bow Bells.

Denise is delighted to be returning having played Carabosse in last year’s production of Sleeping Beauty. “Being the baddie is great fun as I get to pretend to be really mean to some very nice people (when I wouldn't possibly even think of doing that in real life). It's really quite refreshing!” This year Denise will be leading team of rotten rodents on a quest to take over the streets of London.

Her sidekick is Coventry based John Fagan who will be spending his first festive season in Leamington. He says “I have appeared in a lot of pantos and musicals but in the early noughties so it will be great to get back to it after a few years. I have played Wishee Washee and the Emperor in Aladdin (not at the same time!) and Captain Hook among many baddies which of course are always the best fun to play. This will be my first time appearing in Dick Whittington or in Royal Leamington Spa so I am really excited about appearing in what is nearly a home panto for me.”

“My favourite thing about panto is interacting with the audience and how absolutely invested the children become in the characters and the narrative from the boos to the cheers. In these days of video on demand there is still nothing to compare to the live theatre experience.”

Another new face is Kieran Morris who says “I am really excited to playing Dick Whittington. I have played Peter Pan in panto for the last three years so I am looking forward to doing something different this year and I have heard great things about panto at The Royal Spa Centre.”

With some performances already sold out The Royal Spa Centre recommend booking your tickets now to avoid disappointment. Dick Whittington runs from Saturday 1st to Sunday 30th December 2018.

 For more information or to book tickets please call 01926 334 418 or visit