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It’s Behind You……Oh, No It Isn’t!

As we wish the autumn goodbye and prepare for the winter ahead, and of course, the festive season, our wonderful theatres across the region will be opening their doors to welcome children, parents, their families, and friends. Never has it been more vital for the survival of our theatre industry for audiences to be able to enjoy some truly magical and festive shows.

And never has it been more appropriate that many of the students who have trained in the creative industries are now working across the industries, many will be gracing our stages, or working behind the scenes, to bring together the very best Christmas productions up and down the UK.

We want to wish all our colleagues and friends from these amazing productions the best of seasons, and hope you will be able to join in the fun, Boo and Hiss, laugh and cry (and wince at the odd joke!), and to be a part of a ritual we have enjoyed for a very long time. So, book your tickets, and to help you, here is a hand-picked feast of shows in our region to help you on your way!

Touring

The Dickens Theatre Company

‘A Christmas Carol’.

The Backstage Centre is delighted to announce good friends The Dickens Theatre Company returns to the New Theatre Wimbledon, and beaks new ground at the Rhoda McGraw theatre in Woking, with its unique spin on A Christmas Carol, which involves two of Dickens’ theatrical companions playing 30-odd characters between them.

This family treat is directed by Eric Richard (TV’s Bob Cryer from ‘The Bill’)

A Christmas Carol

Studio at New Wimbledon Theatre, 5-10 December 2022

Rhoda McGaw Theatre, Woking 19 – 24 December 2022

You can book for both venues on Box Office: 020 7206 1174

Westcliff-on-Sea

Mirror, mirror, on the wall, don’t miss the fairest pantomime of them all!

Starring Ashley Banjo & Diversity, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs will be spectacularly brought to life with an abundance of comedy, sensational song and dance numbers, fabulous costumes, and stunning scenery. Throw in a magical mirror, seven friendly dwarfs, a beautiful princess, a handsome prince, and plenty of audience participation and you have the perfect recipe to outwit the Wicked Queen and let love prevail in this glittering festive treat for all ages.

Cliffs Pavilion, from Friday 9th December to Saturday 31st December.

Palace Theatre Westcliff-on-Sea’s Dixon Studio.

The Gingerbread Man

Run, run as fast as you can, you can’t catch me, I’m the Gingerbread Man!

It’s Christmas Eve and two Royal Bakers are making the perfect Gingerbread Man for the new Royal Baby’s first Christmas! However, the recipe goes sideways and The Gingerbread Man is soon whisking up trouble! The Bakers need your help to catch the quick biscuit before he crumbles away before Christmas Day!

“This is a real Christmas treat, perfect for a first pantomime and full of the fun of the season” Everything Theatre, 2021.

Knuckle & Joint bring a new bake of The Gingerbread Man with a large cup of spellbinding puppetry, a spoonful of original music and dusted off with plenty of silliness within a very Royal Bakery!

Now, let’s get baking!

Suitable for 2 – 6 year olds.

Basildon

Following the 5-star success of Beauty and the Beast 2021-22, Basildon favourite, Simon Fielding, returns this year as Peter Pan’s Director and Producer, and the baddie everyone loves-to-hate – Sophie Ladds – will be back on stage, playing the dastardly Captain Hook. After winning the hearts of the audiences as Dame Dolly Dumpling in Beauty and the Beast, Ian Hallard will be popping on more fabulous frocks to play the role of Mrs Smee this year. Joining Sophie and Ian will be Harvey Zaffino as cheeky Peter Pan, Hannah Taylor as lovable Wendy, Antonia Luisa-Clarke as mischievous Tinkerbelle and Michael Loftus as silly Wibbles.

So turn right at the second star and secure your seats now!

Family ticket discounts are worked out automatically online. For groups of 10 or more or for School Reservations, please contact the Box Office on towngateboxoffice@basildon.gov.uk or call us on 01268 205 300. A ticket must be purchased for all children attending a performance of the pantomime, regardless of their age. It has always been our policy that we do not recommend bringing children under 3 to our pantomimes.

Grays

Polka Dot Pantomimes and the Thameside Theatre are delighted to present this year’s spellbinding family pantomime BEAUTY AND THE BEAST starring Thurrock’s favourite Dame LUKE COLDHAM as Dolly Doughnut and the return of the hilarious JOHN OAKES as French Franc. Joining them will be ELLIE AUTUMN-WATTS as Belle, MAJOIE VUYA as Fairy Fabulous, and the legendary DAVID BURTON as Maurice. Also making their panto return will be REGGIE and TILLY as Belle’s best friends – yes this panto has everything including real dogs! 

The show features spectacular scenery, glittering costumes, amazing special effects and plenty of audience participation! This is family pantomime at its best, so book your tickets now and be our guest for Thurrock’s finest festive treat. Book your tickets now!

Brentwood

An original magical family musical

The Turtle-Doves have just moved into dreary Pear Tree Cottage with just twelve days to go until Christmas. While exploring their new home Henry and Piper (and their dog Goose) hear a mysterious noise coming from the attic but what’s causing the noise and will they be able to get the Cottage ready in just twelve days? Join our two squabbling siblings in an adventure to find the five gold rings and restore the magic of Christmas.

The Twelve Days of Christmas is an exciting original family musical from the creative team of last years sell-out show The Night Before Christmas, produced by Brentwood Theatre and loosely adapted from the classic Christmas carol.

Suitable for ages 3-103

Approximate running time 60 mins

Family ticket available!

Schools performances available 13-15 & 19 December, please call the box office for more information on 01277 200 305

Hornchurch

A Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch pantomime

Sleeping Beauty

by Andrew Pollard

Original music and lyrics by Tom Self

An enchanting dream of a pantomime

In a magical fairy kingdom, happy plans are underway for Princess Raury’s christening. But a bad fairy has been missed off the invite list, and descends on the party casting a wicked curse.

So when 18 year old Raury pricks her finger on a spinning wheel, and falls asleep for many years, it takes bravery and courage to wake up and face a very different world. But the bad fairy is up to more mischief, and Raury is soon setting off to the rescue, aided by her zany Nanny and family, to ensure true love can find its way…

This timeless tale will be lovingly told in classic Hornchurch style with an outrageous dame, side splitting slapstick comedy and fantastic original music played by the finest of actor musicians.

“Between the cleverly considered (and beautiful!) set and lighting design, the engaging storytelling of the book and the fantastically crafted musical numbers, Sleeping Beauty is a chuckle-inducing, toe-tapping, sing-along spectacular.” Polka Dot Pages

“Everyone left having laughed throughout and this is exactly what panto season is all about.” Musical Theatre Musings

“It was really fun and perfect for families this December” In Your Area. Call 01708 443333 or email boxoffice@queens-theatre.co.uk

Colchester

It’s a tale as old as time and a panto that will be unmissable for the whole family. Discover what it takes for true love to conquer all and whether love is all you really need.

The mysterious Beast imprisons Beauty in his enchanted castle. Can she escape with the help of her family and melt the Beast’s icy heart before it’s too late? Will Cupid’s plan work before the last rose petal fall?

Leading our talented cast in this delicious treat are pantomime royalty, Antony Stuart-Hicks and Dale Superville. Written by Andrew Pollard (Aladdin, Cinderella) and directed by the Olivier award-winning Donnacadh O’Briain.

Come to Colchester this Christmas and fall in love all over again! Box Office: 01206 573948

Filled with music, dancing and plenty of chances to join in, this retelling of the classic tale is packed with fun and surprises.

When Pinocchio discovers that he’s a puppet and not a human, he sets off on an exciting adventure with his trusty sidekick cricket to find the magic potion that will transform him into a real boy.

As he travels the land in search of the potion, Pinocchio meets a whole host of larger-than-life characters. The only trouble is, each teeny-tiny lie he tells makes his wooden nose grow longer! And before he knows it, Pinocchio’s on the run from a fairground master who wants to throw him onto the woodpile.

Will he become a real boy? Or can Pinocchio – and the world around him – learn to accept this puppet boy for who he really is?

Perfect for ages 3-8, enter Pinocchio’s magical world and make lasting memories with your little ones this Christmas. Box Office: 01206 573948

Presented by Nottingham Playhouse Theatre Company

Harlow

Cinderella longs for a happier and more exciting life away from her wicked Stepsisters. Thankfully she has Buttons her loveable companion there to look after her. When the dashing Prince Charming decides to hold a ball to find his future wife, this may just be the chance Cinderella has been waiting for. Can the Fairy Godmother help Cinderella get to the Ball? With the help of some mice and a pumpkin – anything is possible!

Join Harlow favourites Jimmy Burton-Iles and Ben Parsley in our BIGGEST and most MAGICAL pantomime to date, featuring a cast of seasoned professionals, lavish sets and costumes and a live band – Harlow Playhouse – YOUR Playhouse is the home of Pantomime in Essex this Christmas! Oh yes it is! 01279-431945 (Box Office)

Clacton

You shall go to the ball this Christmas as Cinderella transforms from rags to riches, outwits her very Ugly Sisters, and with the help of her hilarious friend and one very magical Fairy Godmother, wins the heart of the dashing Prince Charming.

Panto audiences will be in for a treat as the Cinderella cast will bring comedy, stunning vocals and plenty of surprises to a production packed full of music, dance, laughter and audience participation.  01255 686633 

Canterbury

Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury. WED 7 DEC 2022 ‐ SUN 8 JAN 2023

Don’t miss our fun-filled family pantomime Sleeping Beauty starring TV favourite, Ore Oduba (Strictly), West End Superstar Carrie Hope Fletcher (Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cinderella), Jennie Dale (CBeebies’ Swashbuckle), Marlowe legend, Ben Roddy and rising star, Max Fulham (Crackerjack).

Once again, the show will be written and directed by the award-winning Paul Hendy and produced by the same team behind the five star Box Office smash-hit, Jack And The Beanstalk, which won Best Pantomime at the 2022 Pantomime Awards.

Sleeping Beauty promises to be the pantomime of your dreams, so don’t miss out, book today!

Box office 01227 787787 Mon-Sat 10am – 5pm

Maidstone

Join the Hazlitt Theatre this Christmas as this much loved classic story is transformed into a fun filled family panto, with songs, dances and even a spectacular dragon! 

Cursed by a jealous, wicked fairy on her 18th birthday, the beautiful Princess falls into a deep sleep that can only be ended with a kiss from her true love.

Prince Phillip needs all the help he can get from the good fairies and a merry band of characters to escape the evil clutches of Carabosse, wake Princess Aurora and live happily ever after. Will “true love” win the day?  You’ll have to watch the show to find out! Tel: 01622 758611

Gravesend

Wicked Productions return to The Woodville for their fourth sensational year with the spectacular pantomime of ‘Aladdin’ this Christmas. 

Starring TOWIE’s James ‘ARG’ Argent as The Chief of Police, Gravesend favourite Rob Cummings as Dame Widow Twankey, the Hilarious comedy impressionist The Man They Call G as Abanazar and Georgia Rowland-Elliott as Princess Jasmine.   

We invite you to ‘Peking’ for a magical carpet ride to the Far East this festive season. We promise laugh-out-loud jokes, fabulous costumes, magical special effects, a ‘bazaar’ larger-than-life Genie, sing-along songs AND an astonishing flying carpet.

So – give your old lamp a good rub – and be sure to make a wish for tickets as Aladdin flies into The Woodville this Christmas. IT’S GOING TO BE ‘GENIE’US…

Box Office: 01474 337 500