Pantomime in Buckinghamshire for Christmas 2017
PUBLISHED: 10:48 05 December 2017 | UPDATED: 12:52 02 January 2018
Prepare for non-stop hilarity in the superb local shows this Christmas. Our own Pantomime Queen, Sandra Smith, takes us through what's on offer
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs - December 8–31
Forget all the Wicked Queens you’ve ever hissed because this year Su Pollard is set to be the most fun-loving baddie ever to grace the Waterside Theatre’s stage: “I tell everyone I mean business, but I get to have the fun bits as well like trying to drag the Prince up to my bosoms! When the poison bit comes on the kids shout, I shout; this pantomime has all the elements!”
Local legend Andy Collins, returning for the seventh consecutive year, laughs, “I worked with Su about 10 years ago and I’ve just about recovered. This year I’m Muddles, the short fat bloke. There’s great comedy value. Our Director gets my humour and style, what we’re trying to achieve. This isn’t a cut and paste script, we want to deliver a good show.”
Be assured Andy’s 12 Days of Christmas will be one of the highlights along with Jon Moses as a dashing Prince plus the fabulously flamboyant La Voix.
“Some of my dresses are so huge,” chuckles La Voix “They can’t even fit inside my dressing room! I love the theatre’s bright orange seats, they make everyone look like they’ve got a spray tan. Panto is the highlight of the year for me and I’m working with a wonderful team of comedians. Andy’s great and Sue is bonkers, but in a good way.”
Waterside Theatre, Exchange Street, Aylesbury HP20 1UG; www.watersidetheatreaylesbury.com
Jack and the Beanstalk - December 9–31
“Pantomime is one of the best things which I really look forward to at the end of the year. There’s nothing like hearing those kids laugh and it’s a great way to de-stress at Christmas time,” says Simon Webbe.
Equally at home entertaining families, on the West End stage or singing with his award winning boyband, Blue, Simon revels in the opportunity of being the centre of attention, even in an imaginary world: “Starring in pantomime is just like being a kid again. It’s comedy and that’s what I love. When you hear the crowd participating, it’s hard not to laugh.”
Joining Simon at the Swan Theatre are Britain Got Talent’s Ashleigh Butler and her canine sidekick Sully in this colourful adaptation of a timeless classic directed by CBeebies star, Chris Jarvis. “We aim to please everyone,” Chris smiles, “by entertaining the whole family as a unit, which isn’t hard given the format; the humour is on multi levels. We have spectacular sets with 3D projections working in harmony as traditional pantomime.”
The show promises to be memorable. And let’s hope Simon is tempted to reveal some Strictly Come Dancing moves as well as entertain with his fabulous voice.
Wycombe Swan, St Mary Street, High Wycombe HP11 2XE; www.wycombeswan.co.uk
Cinderella - December 9–January 14
Milton Keynes will be alive with comedy gold this year when musical theatre icon Brian Conley teams up with Gok Wan.
“No other country in the world has pantomime,” enthuses Brian. “It’s a traditional art which plays to the whole family and educates kids how special live performances are. There’s an excitement they won’t get anywhere else, you can’t replicate it any other way, and many people are there, all part of this same experience.”
You may be familiar with the Cinderella story but did you realise Velcro has replaced Buttons? And look out for some Strictly moves, too.
“This plays to all my strengths: dancing, plenty of ad libbing and singing; I was born to sing, everything else I learned.”
Meanwhile Gok Wan’s Fairy Gokmother will strut his stuff, filling the stage with his wardrobe magic. The pair have previously worked together in record breaking panto seasons and, with the promise of big musical numbers of lots of comedy, audiences are guaranteed a festive treat. Oh yes, they are!
They are joined by the lovely Lauren Hall as Cinderella, who as well as appearing in musicals such as Thoroughly Modern Millie and Jersey Boys, has taken on the role three times previously.
Milton Keynes Theatre, 500 Marlborough Gate, Central Milton Keynes MK9 3NZ; www.atgtickets.com
Snow White - December 5–31
She’s beautiful, knows her own mind and her mischievous humour is desperate for attention. Do I mean Snow White or the elegant Helena Mitchell who is about to set foot on the Elgiva stage? Well, both I reckon.
“I’m naturally fun and unique,” the 22-year-old laughs. “Everyone knows that Snow White is a happy-go-lucky girl, slightly naïve as well as switched on and I won’t disappoint them, but I’m also looking forward to finding different aspects of her character. I want everyone to like her.”
In Helena’s first pantomime she is eagerly anticipating a connection with the audience in Chesham’s theatre where her love interest, Prince Charming, is dashingly handsome. There’s nothing better to do over Christmas than perform in front of a receptive audience. “The Prince is steadfast but there’ll be moments to have fun, too,” Peter Willoughby declares. With a passion for music and underlying ambition to take on the role of James Bond, this Prince is sure to win his heroine’s heart.
Of course, no pantomime is complete without a buxom dame with a penchant for costume changes and Oliver Graham will work his way through a wardrobe of outrageously garish outfits while West End star Mandy Watsham Dunstall’s Wicked Queen promises to be every bit as naughty as she is wicked.
Elgiva Theatre, St Mary’s Way, Chesham HP5 1HR; www.elgiva.com
Pinocchio - December 8–30
One of the attractions of the Limelight Theatre’s annual productions is their accessibility. These community plays are created by local artists and feature actors from the community while reasonable ticket prices, an intimate venue and sign language interpretation mean performances are available to everyone.
In this year’s family pantomime Matte Black can’t wait to get to grips with the leading character: “I’ve been into physical performance and especially circus for most of my adult life but I’ve never yet had the opportunity to perform as a puppet. I’m looking forward to this year’s panto pushing us all in new directions.”
The energy and dedication of QPC staff is evident in the aura that pervades Matte’s fellow performer, Erika Sanderson: “I’m absolutely delighted to be back here playing Fairy Celestia. It’s a very special time of year and performing always makes for a magical Christmas.”
Theatre Manager, Dario Knight, whose work has been performed at the RADA Academy, has once again written and directed this year’s pantomime. “It’s a thrill to be sitting in the Director’s chair,” he enthuses, “and we have produced a truly uplifting, beautiful and funny show.”
Limelight Theatre, Queens Park Centre, Aylesbury HP21 7RT; www.qpc.org