Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 14°C

min temp: 11°C

ESTD 1874 Search

Panto season is nearly upon us, but will you be taking your family to see Cinderella in Bury St Edmunds or Beauty and the Beast in Ipswich?

12:57 22 November 2014

Ugly sisters Lady G (Jon De Ville) and Katy P (pink hair, James Parkes) are unleashed in Bury St Edmunds prior to their appearence in Cinderella at the Theatre Royal

Ugly sisters Lady G (Jon De Ville) and Katy P (pink hair, James Parkes) are unleashed in Bury St Edmunds prior to their appearence in Cinderella at the Theatre Royal

Tony Kelly

Subtle understatement goes out of the window as the panto season arrives. In his first preview David Henshall takes a look at what’s in store for Suffolk panto-goers.

Joe Leat and Alice Mottram rehearsing the Eastern Angles Christmas Show The Mystery of St Finnigan's ElbowJoe Leat and Alice Mottram rehearsing the Eastern Angles Christmas Show The Mystery of St Finnigan's Elbow

Christmas is coming and the pantomime goose is getting fatter. The delightfully crazy yuletide shows are such popular money-spinners that theatres are opening them earlier and running them longer. And, the choice seems to get broader each year.

Ipswich audiences, in particular, have the pick of several different styles, from rock’n’roll to straight panto, madcap satire or dance. From now till Christmas each Saturday, we will be setting out the offerings at a score or more venues along with the details of how to book your tickets.

Cinderella, Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds, November 28 to January 11

Written by former Blue Peter presenter Peter Duncan, this one ticks all the traditional panto boxes with catchy songs, corny jokes, dastardly villains, swirling dresses, a huge dose of slapstick and a sprinkling of magic.

In a nice touch, Karen Simpson, the Royal’s director, has gone back to the original panto style of having a female principal boy. Julia Cave is Prince Charming with Aimee Barret as Cinders. The bane of her life, the cruel Ugly Sisters in the monstrous shapes of Jon De Ville and James Parkes, are loud and possessed of the worst dress sense in the world.

Dandini, naturally, is also played by a girl, Danielle Delys, with Matthew Russell-Jones as Buttons. Sarah-Louise Young’s Fairy Godmother will be producing the special enchantment that sends the glass-slippered Cinders off to dance into love.

Beauty and the Beast, New Wolsey, Ipswich, November 27 to January 31

Peter Rowe’s rock’n’roll pantos go from strength to strength with their unique blend of traditional fairytale and hit songs, played and sung by actor-musicians. They are always great fun, full of surprises and especially fascinating in the way the cast move seamlessly between being the heroes and heroines of the story and members of a cracking rock band.

Several of the cast are familiar faces from previous pantos or shows like A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, The Threepenny Opera and Our House. Esther Biddle is back as Good Fairy Fortunate with Daniel Carter-Hope playing Peacock Beauregarde and Nicola Bryan as Vanity, one of Beauty’s sisters.

Romantics will be pleased to see again Dan De Cruz (Beast) who last year proposed on stage to Sarah Mahoney. This time she is Luxury, another of Beauty’s sisters. New to the team are Lucy Wells, playing Beauty and Matt Jopling as Desperate Dan.

Eamonn Fleming as Dame Bronwen Bigbreaths is also new. He was in The Full Monty, nominated for Best New Comedy in the Olivier Awards when at the Noel Coward Theatre in London.

Get This Party Started is the ideal number to get things going when Prince Promising is about to be crowned king but when a wicked witch turns him into a hideous Beast he needs to Keep on Running until he Finds Somebody to Love. Meantime, down on Dame Bronwen’s Suffolk farm, Beauty is keen to prove You Can’t Hurry Love but will she ever be Dancing in the Moonlight?

The Mystery of St Finnigan’s Elbow, Sir John Mills Theatre, Ipswich, December 3 to January 31

It’s 1936 and a crisis is looming at a remote Suffolk convent school - St Finnigan’s famous Funny Bone has mysteriously vanished. Can Alicia and Lulu, the Trumpington twins, solve the riddle before Cardinal Pecorino arrives? Will the Rufty Tufty gang get their comeuppance? And what is Mr Facsimile up to in the bushes?

The old firm is back in business for Eastern Angles with a zany new comedy by Pat Whymark and Julian Harries and the little theatre’s Christmas show favourites, Greg Wagland and Samuel Martin, leading the cast.

The writing team behind the memorable Miss Marple spoof Dial M For Murgatroyd, this time takes Enid Blyton as its inspiration with a Malory Towers-influenced mystery featuring school bullies, bossy nuns, sinister strangers and missing valuables.

Newcomers Francesca Gosling, Alice Mottram and Joe Leat make up the actor-musician cast playing a host of crazy characters in this wacky alternative to traditional panto. It moves to the Woodbridge Seckford in mid-January.

Related articles


  • At least they are earning something from Norwich's success. It would be a pointless excercise advertising Ipswich as a shopping destination. They would be prosecuted under the trade descriptions act.

    Report this comment

    Billy Knowbend

    Monday, November 24, 2014

  • Each Saturday there'll be more reviews - I'm sure the Regent will feature before long. On a similar nite, though, it's remarkable to see Christmas shopping in Norwich advertised on the side of Ipswich buses...

    Report this comment

    Graham Cleaver

    Sunday, November 23, 2014

  • I think that it is wonderful that Archant do not feel the need to kowtow to Ipswich Borough Council even though IBC are paying for an advert to their pantomime at the top of the page. Archant are obviously being encouraged by Travel Ipswich to give free advertising to the panto in Bury to relieve the traffic jams in Ipswich. I find it strange that a newspaper that has a town's name in it's title is encouraging people to take their business to another town. What an odd way to run a business being so insensitive that you bite the hand that feeds you.

    Report this comment

    Billy Knowbend

    Saturday, November 22, 2014

  • Obviously, living in Ipswich we shall be going to Bury, quicker to get there and parking too.

    Report this comment

    grumpy old git

    Saturday, November 22, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

Portrait of Robert Pacitti outside the Think Tank.

This year’s attention-grabbing Spill Festival of Performance will be unleashed across Ipswich next week with more than 100 events being staged across Suffolk’s county town, stretching from Christchurch Park to The Waterfront.

The Circus of Horrors, coming to Felixstowe's Spa Pavilion October 25. Photo: Chris Schmidt

The only place for scary clowns is on stage says Circus of Horror’s evil ringmaster Dr John Haze.

Company of Four stage Monty Python's Spamalot at the Ipswich Regent. Photo: Contributed

Although I’m a fan of the show Spamalot - I went to see the touring production at the Regent five years ago - I have to admit I only wanted to see the Company of Four’s version as my cousin Jo is in it (very good as a sweary minstrel, I have to say!)

Ruth Madoc in Be My Baby, at the Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds, October 17-22

Ruth Madoc didn’t have to look too far for inspiration for her role as the steely matron with a heart of gold in the play Be My Baby. She talks to entertainment writer Wayne Savage about her influential mother and her early childhood in East Anglia.

Members of the Richard Alston Company take flight

This weekend sees two of the county’s leading arts organisations coming together to stage three days of music and dance. Andrew Clarke, our arts editor, talks to choreographer Richard Alston, who will be premiering a new piece inspired by his great hero: Suffolk composer Benjamin Britten

The Theatre Royal in Bury.

The Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds has been handed £26,000 by the town council to help its outreach work with thousands of children in the area.

Katie Hawkes, Peter Hawkes, Callum Limer and Kenny Sayer as some of the zany characters in SODS pantomime 'Sinbad And The Magical Mystery'.

Suffolk’s pantomime season is almost upon us, but which of the county’s festive treats will you see this year?

Will Featherstone as Dan and Gwen Taylor as Mrs Bramson in Night Must Fall at the New Wolsey Theatre

Night Must Fall is a delicious, atmospheric contradiction. Written in 1934, it is clearly a product of its times. A world of faded wealth and privilege has been preserved in aspic in this lonely house on the edge of an isolated wood – and yet this is a psychological thriller with a very contemporary feel.

Kerry Ellis and Norman Bowman in Murder Ballad at The Arts Theatre in London's West End

For Suffolk-born West End star Kerry Ellis life at the moment spins from one extreme to another. One moment she is on stage with rock legend Brian May acknowledging a standing ovation at the end of another sell-out concert and the next she is changing the nappy of ten month old son Freddie or collecting his three year old brother Alfie from play group.

Most read

Great Days Out


Click here to view
the Great Days Out


Most commented

Show Job Lists


Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

MyDate24 MyPhotos24