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The EADT guide to Christmas pantos

PUBLISHED: 18:17 30 November 2017 | UPDATED: 18:17 30 November 2017

Simon Nock as Dame Millicent Merry. Red Riding Hood at the New Wolsey Theatre. Photo Mike Kwasniak

Simon Nock as Dame Millicent Merry. Red Riding Hood at the New Wolsey Theatre. Photo Mike Kwasniak

Mike Kwasniak Photography, 2017 - www.mikekwasniak.co.uk

Dodgy-looking characters sporting bizarre hairstyles, outrageous clothes and delivering an unending stream of bad jokes can only mean one thing... that panto season is upon us. This is our guide to the professional pantomimes coming our way during this Christmas.

Megan Bancroft, Junior Chorus - Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs  Colchester Mercury - Photo: Robert Workman Megan Bancroft, Junior Chorus - Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Colchester Mercury - Photo: Robert Workman

Theatres invite audiences to let their hair down and join in with an annual celebration of silliness and uplifting storytelling. It’s a world where fairytale kingdoms collide with the modern world with not-so veiled references to Simon Cowell, Donald Trump and the Great British Bake Off. It’s all laced together with upbeat pop tunes and knock-about farce.

This is our guide to the varied pantomimes coming our way during the Christmas period.

Ipswich, New Wolsey: Red Riding Hood: The Rock;n’Roll Panto, until January 27. Written by Peter Rowe, and performed in the New Wolsey Theatre’s iconic actor-musician style, this brand new adaptation of the classic tale is brimming with fun, frolics… and flour!

Rob Falconer as The Wolf. Red Riding Hood at the New Wolsey Theatre. Photo Mike Kwasniak Rob Falconer as The Wolf. Red Riding Hood at the New Wolsey Theatre. Photo Mike Kwasniak

Ipswich, New Wolsey Studio: WOW! Said the Owl, from December 5 to January 2. This is an adaptation of the acclaimed children’s book by Tim Hopgood and tells the story of a curious little owl who is determined to stay awake to see what daylight brings. The story is brought to life through a blend of beautiful storytelling, puppetry and music. Directed by Joy Haynes, this show will delight children ages 2 to 5.

Ipswich, Eastern Angles, Sir John Mills Theatre: The Ladykillers of Humber Doucy Lane, from December 6 to January 20. Eastern Angles love a good spoof, having lampooned Lord Peter Wimsey, Agatha Christie, Father Brown and Charles Dickens, they are now tackling the Ealing comedy classic The Ladykillers, although this particular adaptation has a very local twist.

Ipswich, Jerwood DanceHouse: The Borrowers, from December 13-17. This much-loved children’s book and has now been turned into a dance-theatre/audio-visual experience. This new show is being premiered on the Ipswich Waterfront and mixes contemporary dance with physical theatre and some spectacular projections.

Chris Evans as Lion, Courtney Yule as Dorothy Gale, Haydn Ingram as Tinman and Thomas Haigh as Scarecrow confront Lizzie Tyte as the Wicked Witch of the West in the Co-op Juniors Theatre Company's Christmas Spectacular in The Land of Oz. Photo: Mike Kwasniak Chris Evans as Lion, Courtney Yule as Dorothy Gale, Haydn Ingram as Tinman and Thomas Haigh as Scarecrow confront Lizzie Tyte as the Wicked Witch of the West in the Co-op Juniors Theatre Company's Christmas Spectacular in The Land of Oz. Photo: Mike Kwasniak

Ipswich, Red Rose Chain: The Elves and The Shoemaker, from December 7-31. Joanna Carrick’s new Christmas show, based on the Brothers Grimm tale, featuring three members of this year’s Theatre in the Forest – Emma Swan, Ryan Penny and Darren Latham.

Ipswich Regent: Jack and The Beanstalk, from December 16-January 2. Poor Jack and his dotty mum Dame Trott are tricked into selling their beloved cow Daisy for a useless bag of beans – or are they? The all-star cast includes Britain’s Got Talent winner George Sampson, Emmerdale’s Roxanne Pallett, The Dumping Ground’s Connor Byrne, Britain’s Got Talent impressionist Andrew Fleming, BBC Radio Suffolk’s Wayne Bavin, Martin Ramsdin and Lauren Grice.

Bury St Edmunds: Theatre Royal: Dick Whittington, from December 1-January 14. A young country boy is destined to vanquish the rats and become London’s Lord Mayor. One of the best loved stories of all time, this exciting adventure takes our hero all the way from his home in sleepy Suffolk, to rat infested London Town and on to Paradise Island on the good ship Leaking Lizzie. It’s a show filled with a blend of magic, music, fun and laughter.

The Borrowers: Spiller (Lewis Cooke) Pod (Thomasin Gulgec) Arrietty (Hannah Mason) Homily (Estela Merlos), this new show is being staged for Christmas at DanceEast. Photo: DanceEast The Borrowers: Spiller (Lewis Cooke) Pod (Thomasin Gulgec) Arrietty (Hannah Mason) Homily (Estela Merlos), this new show is being staged for Christmas at DanceEast. Photo: DanceEast

Colchester Mercury: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, until January 14. Starring panto favourites Dale Superville and Antony Stuart-Hicks, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs tells the story of the most beautiful girl in the land, but when her father, the King, remarries, she must escape the clutches of the wicked new Queen. Thank goodness for her beloved Nurse Nellie, and her best friend Muddles.

Snape Maltings: In The Land of Oz, Ipswich Co-op Juniors, from December 1-10. The story, written by Alan Ayres, takes place long after the Wizard has left. The Wicked Witch of the West steals the jewel containing the spirit of Christmas from the Emerald City, so the Scarecrow summons Dorothy back from Kansas to help him, the Lion and Tinman recover the jewel.

Suffolk Touring: Spinning Wheel Theatre, A Christmas Carol, from December 7-23. The professional touring company brings Dickens’ A Christmas Carol to community venues across Suffolk. Aimed at children aged five and over, parents and grandparents, the show features puppetry, singing and evocative scenery. It starts on Thursday December 7 at Moyses Hall Museum in Bury St Edmunds and continues on to Palgrave Community Centre, Drinkstone Village Hall, Wyverstone Village Hall, Glemham Hall, and Stowmarket’s John Peel Centre.

Suffolk Touring: Common Ground Theatre, Sherlock Holmes and The Hooded Lance, from December 15 to January 13. Julian Harries and Pat Whymark return to Conan Doyle’s ace detective with a bit of help from long-term collaborators Richard Mainwaring and Joe Leat. Who is the Hooded Lance, their newest and deadliest adversary? And why is he hell bent on spoiling everyone’s Christmas and being really annoying?

Felixstowe Spa: Aladdin, Dennis Lowe Theatre Company, from December 23 to January 7. Aladdin dreams of marrying Princess Jasmine who is beautiful and well connected but the wicked magician Abanazar has tricked Aladdin into helping him find a magic lamp hidden in a secret cavern high in the hills. Aladdin soon finds himself trapped with only a pile of plastic jewels and a battered old lamp for company while his mother, Widow Twanky, and brother, Wishee Washee, are both excited at the prospect of great riches. It’s only when Aladdin rubs the scruffy lamp that his adventure really begins!

Woodbridge, Seckford Theatre, Woodbridge School: The Little Mermaid, from December 22-30. The Deben Players adapt this classic tale for the stage. For her birthday, Melody is granted legs for one day by her father the sea king Triton. Once on land she falls in love and desperately wants to stay but Triton forbids it so she finds another more dangerous way. Melody and the kingdoms of the land and sea are soon in peril. Will good prevail? With sea Hags plotting, Dames confusing things and some magical goings on, who knows.

Lowestoft, Marina Theatre: Aladdin, from December 13-January 1. Fasten your seat belts for a magical carpet ride to Old Peking where soap-sud silliness has got Widow Twankey and her sons Aladdin and Wishee-Washee in a lather. Can the Slave of the Ring and the Genie of the Lamp help our hero win the day? The cast includes ex-MP Ann Widdecombe, A1 boyband member Mark Read and resident funny man Terry Gleed.

Lowestoft, Marina Theatre: Cinderella, The Lowestoft Players, from January 20-28. Celebrating their 50th panto, Buttons, Cinders and her two Ugly Stepsisters, along with a host of crazy characters, take you on a rollercoaster ride of mayhem and madcap merriment.

Clacton, Princes Theatre: Beauty and The Beast, Polkda Dot Pantomimes, from December 9-January 1. TOWIE’s Dan Osborne leads the cast of this festive take on a tale as old as time. Once upon a time, a handsome young prince was cursed by evil sorceress Grimalkin and was doomed to stay hidden in his castle in the guise of a grotesque beast. Can Belle unlock the hero within?

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If you haven’t sent Santa your Christmas list yet, pop tickets for this festive-fuelled fairytale on it first.

It’s not Christmas without a visit to Red Rose Chain’s The Avenue Theatre. We spoke to writer and director Joanna Carrick and actors Emma Swan, Darren Latham and Ryan Penny about The Elves and The Shoemaker.

A great panto starts from the moment the audience enters the auditorium and starts looking at the set laid out before it. Arts editor Andrew Clarke talks to designer David Shields about the art of creating a larger-than-life panto world

DanceEast is staging the premiere of a new dance-theatre production of the children’s classic The Borrowers. Arts editor Andrew Clarke spoke to director Jane Hackett about putting dancers in the middle of an animated world

Charlotte Smith-Jarvis says Greg Davies, live in Ipswich as part of the You Magnificent Beast tour, is one of the funniest stand-ups she’s seen.

Robert Wright throughly enjoys Dick Whittington, this year’s panto offering at Bury St Edmunds Theatre Royal

Cockney fun Fairy Pearl promised us she would take us to “a world of pure imagination”.

The Colchester Mercury clearly know that they have got a pair of panto superstars in the infectiously funny Dale Superville and Dame Antony Stuart-Hicks and have harnessed their talent for comic mayhem for another Yuletide adventure.

A pantomime being put on in a north Essex village is bringing members of the community together – and raising money for charity.

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