Empty shopping centre in Bury St Edmunds to be used for Theatre Royal panto rehearsals

James Parkes is the panto dame (Tina Trumpington) at the Theatre Royal in Bury.

James Parkes is the panto dame (Tina Trumpington) at the Theatre Royal in Bury. - Credit: Archant

The cast and crew for this year’s Theatre Royal pantomime in Bury St Edmunds will be rehearsing in an almost empty shopping centre.

The team for Jack and the Beanstalk, which launches at the playhouse on November 27, will set up in the former Index catalogue shop from November 9 to rehearse the traditional panto, which is being directed by the theatre’s artistic director Karen Simpson.

The usual panto rehearsal space – the town’s Guildhall – is currently being renovated and is unavailable.

Chrissy Harrod, Cornhill Walk shopping centre manager, said: “I am delighted that Cornhill Walk is able to work in partnership with the Theatre Royal and allow them to use one of our units for the Jack and the Beanstalk pantomime rehearsals this year. Being able to do this is very positive for Cornhill Walk and the community spirit we have always embraced.

“We are very much looking forward to welcoming the cast and crew to what is going to be an exciting time for all of us.”

The shopping centre has been in administration for almost two years and the only store left is the Buy the Light gift shop.

Ms Simpson said: “We very grateful to Cornhill Walk for letting us have the space and are really looking forward to starting our rehearsals for Jack and the Beanstalk.

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“We love working in the heart of the town and the actors really enjoy being able to really get to know Bury St Edmunds before we move into the theatre. It all adds to the excitement when people hear us rehearsing the songs and practising the comedy routines and get a sneak preview of the show we are all working on.

“We are absolutely thrilled to be rehearsing in the centre of Bury St Edmunds again.”

Oliver Mawdsley plays the hero, Jack, with Louise Olley as Jill. Leonie Spilsbury makes a return to the Theatre Royal as Wendy and the Giant’s wife, and also returning to the theatre’s stage is James Parkes, who last year was one of the Ugly Sisters in Cinderella. He once again steps into the dame’s shoes as Tina Trumpington.

The pantomime runs from November 27-January 10. For tickets go to www.theatreroyal.org