Cinderella, Peter Pan and Aladdin - which panto will you see this Christmas?

Sarah Moss as the title character in the Colchester Mercury's pantomime Cinderella

Sarah Moss as the title character in the Colchester Mercury's pantomime Cinderella - Credit: Archant

More of the region’s top pantomimes are getting under way as we move into our second round-up of the Christmas theatre entertainments. We are covering all the major shows and we will be setting out a full weekly list of what’s on where and how to book your tickets.

Samuel Parker as Peter Pan and Neal Wrightas Smee in the Chelmsford Civic Theatre's production of Pe

Samuel Parker as Peter Pan and Neal Wrightas Smee in the Chelmsford Civic Theatre's production of Peter Pan - Credit: Archant

Cinderella, Mercury Theatre, Colchester, December 5 to January 11

Several well-known faces are back at Colchester as the Mercury stages the most famous of all pantomimes, Cinderella. But Cinders is played by newcomer, Sarah Moss, who sees her as “a contemporary heroine in a time-honoured setting, strong and full of character”.

She’s very excited to be working in “a really traditional fun show full of big songs and dance numbers and working with such a talented cast”.

Mercury regulars will be delighted by the return of two long-time panto stalwarts, Ignatius Anthony and Tim Freeman, as the ugly sisters who give Cinderella such a hard time. But another old favourite, Dale Superville, playing Buttons, will make sure she has a friend who loves her.

Simon Pontin appears in his second Mercury pantomime as the dashing Prince Charming with Laura Curnick spreading the magic around as Fairy Godmother. Curnick, who also plays Dandini, arrives from touring her one-woman children’s show, Excuse Mrs Pardon, which was one of the hits of this year’s Edinburgh Festival.

Preparing herself for hisses and boos is Basienka Blake as Cinderella’s wicked step-mother, Evilla. She was Vivien in the West End and touring version of Dirty Dancing.

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Aladdin, Cambridge Arts Theatre, December 4 to January 11

Favourite funnyman Matt Crosby returns to the Arts for his tenth panto to play Widow Twanky and is joined by Lowri Walton and Sam Hoye as her sons Aladdin and Wishee Washee. Also back are Coronation Street’s Stephen Beckett as Abanaza and Richard Earl as the Emperor of Peking.

Philippa Stephani, Lauran Rae and Cavin Cornwall complete the cast with an ensemble of professional dancers plus two teams of local children chosen from 200 hopefuls in auditions earlier this year.

David Grindley, who directed Maureen Lipman in the hit play Daytona, is staging Aladdin with all the touches of classic panto from the corny jokes and the singalong tunes to the dazzling costumes and, of course, the necessary bits of magic.

Dogs Don’t Do Ballet, New Wolsey Studio, December 3 to January 3

This is a yuletide treat for the two to sixes. All dogs have a secret ambition even if they are not always able to tell us exactly what it is. Some love to swim; others because of their fondness for food, clearly want to be cooks; quite a number are able to talk to us in their own way. Biff is quite different. He likes to dance.

Not just any old dance. He adores music and moonlight and thinks he’s a ballerina. So in this hilarious tale the sublime and the ridiculous combine to give us a small dog with a big personality and even bigger dreams.

This is all brought to life by Little Angel Theatre using beautiful puppets, well-loved ballet scores and much delightful fun.

Peter Pan, Chelmsford Civic, December 3 to January 3

Written as a play by J M Barrie in 1904, Peter Pan was ready-made for panto with its young hero and his wicked adversary Captain Hook, and is especially loved by children who like a bit of blood and thunder. They can’t wait for the ticking time-bomb crocodile that has chewed off Hook’s hand to come for the rest of him.

The show is also special because when Peter carries off Mrs Darling’s children they actually fly out of the window. And Neverland is brilliantly peopled with lots of lost boys, red Indians and swashbuckling pirates as well as Tinkerbell and Tiger Lily.

For more panto news, see the first part of our round-up here