Pantomime Take Over in Full Swing

We are deep into the swing of the autumn season, and I hope you’ve been making the most of the wealth of great theatre around. As the pantomime season begins to take over the counties (Oh yes it is!) and thrive, in addition to our annual panto pullout, I wanted to continue on from last month’s feature and highlight a few more of the best picks, this time focusing on what Suffolk and Essex have on offer.

Ipswich is fortunate in having a particularly vast and varied choice, though one of the local favourites has to be Ipswich Regent’s traditional take on Cinderella (14-31 Dec), this year starring Adam Garcia and Hannah Spearritt, with more to be announced, so you won’t want to miss out on tickets to this year’s ball. Another local favourite is the infamous New Wolsey Theatre’s rock ’n’ roll panto which continues to be as popular as ever, and this year sees Peter Rowe’s take on Aladdin (28 Nov-1 Feb) with over 20 songs performed by the talented troupe of actor-musicians. Whichever way you sway, both are bound to bring joy to families.

However there are plenty more great offerings across Suffolk, as the Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds prepare to take flight with Peter Pan (29 Nov-19 Jan), promising a magical evening of fun and adventure. Stowmarket Operatic and Dramatic Society (SODS) have worked hard to put on another great annual panto and this year is the turn of a modern take on Little Red Riding Hood (3-8th December). The Dennis Lowe Theatre Company bring the rags to riches tale of a young man and his cat on an exciting quest for fame and fortune with Dick Whittington at the Spa Pavilion, Felixstowe (21 Dec-5 Jan).

If you like your Christmas show to be a little different, Eastern Angles proudly present The Famous Four & A Half Go Wild in Thetford Forest as this year’s crazy offering. This new musical comedy spoof will get you into the festive spirit at the Sir John Mills Theatre, Ipswich (4 Dec-4 Jan) and also touring to the Seckford Theatre, Woodbridge and Key Theatre, Peterborough in January.

As for Essex, The Mercury at Abbey Fields in Colchester are playing host to the charming tale of Cinderella (30 Nov-5 Jan). It’s been supersized to fill the venue, which can only mean more glitter, glamour and songs. The Civic Theatre, Chelmsford proudly present the high-flying family show Peter Pan (29 Nov-5 Jan) featuring dynamic dance routines, stunning costumes, an abundance of comedy, plenty of audience participation and heaps of fairy dust! The Harlow Playhouse give us the gigantic Jack and the Beanstalk (29 Nov-5 Jan), so Fe Fi Fo Fum let’s hope you’re ready for lots of fun.

Alternatively, why not take Christmas to the seaside with Princes Theatre, Clacton’s offering of Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs (7 Dec-1 Jan) starring Graham Cole (The Bill), Graeme Matthews (Britain’s Got Talent) and Russell Grant, with more star casting to be announced. Meanwhile, over at the Southend Cliffs Pavilion, Ashley Banjo and Diversity, and Kev Orkian are among the first stars announced for Robin Hood and The Merry Men (13 Dec-4 Jan) which is guaranteed to be a dance spectacle, filled with lots of laughs along the way.

Once again, this is only a scrape on the surface of the pantos in the region – so I hope you’ve got your tickets to the ball wherever yours may be before the tickets turn to dust; and get ready to spread that festive cheer loudly for all to hear.