A panto character and his magical beanstalk will help show people the way up and out of any lingering lockdown lows.
Jack and the Beanstalk running at Sheringham Little Theatre will chart the youngster’s journey from being trapped in the house with his trying-to-be-trendy mum to rediscovering the outside world, adventure and romance. It begins on Freedom Day and takes them up the beanstalk to confront the evil giant.
Writer and director Nick Earnshaw, the venue’s regular panto creator, said: “There will be all the usual panto magic, music and comedy – but with a topical message of trying to show people they can once again get out and enjoy themselves.”
He added that his training with Panto legend Eric Potts – a nationally-acclaimed writer, director and dame in festive fun across the UK – had helped him shape his own panto writing style.
“One piece of advice that always has helped is using the Ladybird book stories as a base to make sure you get the storytelling elements clear within the show and then add a modern twist to the classic story,” Nick said.
The show will follow the pattern of last year’s festive show Rapunzel, using a smaller cast, for a shorter concentrated hour long show full of action, song, dance, gags and special effects.
Nick added: ”The format was forced on is last year by Covid, but it worked, so we are repeating it and building on its success.”
It will again by streamed to primary schools nationwide thanks to a link up with the Norfolk Music Hub and educational music experts Charanga at a special December 16 performance in partner venue St George’s Theatre, Great Yarmouth. Last year the show was seen by more than 200,000 pupils across the UK, who will learn the songs beforehand and be encouraged to dress up on the day of the live screening.
Theatre director Debbie Thompson said: “Our panto was a real boost for locked down children last year, and the only way they could see live festive fun. Things have eased and changed but we know some people are still struggling to regain their old lives – and we hope this year’s fun show will help, with a positive message and a chance to see the show in our socially- distanced seating.”
The 160-seater theatre is still only using 100 of them, and families wanting extra space should call the box office to discuss their booking.
Jack, played by Charlie Randall from Aylsham, has been educated through home schooling and “entertained” by on line dances by his embarrassing mum Dame TikTok (Harry Wyatt from North Walsham). Colin the family cow is played by Ollie Westlake from Southrepps. Jack’s love interest is Jill Weaver (Emma Riches from Great Yarmouth, who was Rapunzel last year).
The live theatre panto shows are running at St Georges Theatre, Great Yarmouth from December 11-19 (1pm and 5pm) and Little Theatre Sheringham December 21-23 (1pm and 5pm), Christmas Eve at 10am and 1pm, and back to 1pm and 5pm for December 26-31.
Schools can sign up to join in at the Norfolk Music Hub at www.norfolkmusichub.org.uk.