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PANTO TIME! A roundup of the biggest seasonal shows in Devon

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: December 05, 2013

  • SLEEPING BEAUTY: The Good Fairy, Susan Penhaligon, waves her wand over a magical cast for the panto, the Prince (Jonny Landels), Bad Fairy Carabosse (Niki Evans), the Dame (Antony Stuart Hicks), the King (Brian Weston), Princess Aurora (Jamie Lee Pike) and Muddles (Paul Lawrence-Thomas). Picture: Mike Southon. To order this photograph call 0844 4060 269 and quote Ref: BNMS20131011C-125_C

  • CHARMING: The prince, Jonny Landels with Princess Aurora, Jamie Lee Pike, in Broomhill Sculpture Gardens. Picture: Mike Southon. To order this photograph call 0844 4060 269 and quote Ref: BNMS20131011C-097_C

  • CINDERELLA: at the Exeter Corn Exchange

  • GOTCHA: The Sheriff of Nottingham (Nigel Havers) ropes in Nurse Tilly Tick (Jeffrey Holland) for the Theatre Royal pantomine Robin Hood. Right, the eponymous hero (Lee Mead) joins the fray. Theatre Royal pictures by Lucy Blake

  • 10/09/2013 - Pic by Lucy Blake Launch of the Theatre Royal pantomine Robin Hood. Lee Mead and Nigel Havers in character. Reporter Martin Contact Anne-Marie Clark on 230479 07967 758118

  • BEWARE: A scene from Oedipuss In Boots by The Wardrobe Theatre.

  • PHANTOM: Oscar Adams as Orlando in the Plough panto.

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ICAN'T wait. Oh no I can't! I'm thinking about all those cheesy ballads, groan-worthy jokes, saucy innuendos, messy custard pies and garish frocks. Then there's the boos. I just love the boos. Can't get enough booze, me! (Boom-Tish).

Yes panto season is nearly upon us and to get you in the mood, here is my guide to the biggest shows taking place across the region.

Sleeping Beauty

Queen's Theatre, Barnstaple

From Saturday, December 14 to Saturday, January 4

Forget bulky dames with deep voices, this year's Queen's Theatre panto stars the ultra-glam dame Antony Stewart-Hicks who will no doubt parade his enviably shapely pins in a series of eye-popping show-stoppers. Always a favourite with Barnstaple audiences, his Lily Savage style humour alone has to be worth the price of a ticket.

Nobody will be snoozing through this lively, fun-packed traditional panto – except, of course, leading lady Jamie Lee Pike who plays Sleeping Beauty.

Good Fairy Meadowsweet (Susan Penhaligon), no doubt, will make sure there is no time for dozing as she urges you to stay vigilant and fight the wicked schemes of Bad Fairy Carabosse, played by former X-Factor contestant Niki Evans.

The Queen's Theatre panto can always be relied upon for traditional story-telling and quality family fun.

"Panto is always one of the highlights of our season and it has become an essential Christmas treat for so many families," said North Devon Theatres Trust chief executive Alan Giddings.

"They are going to love Sleeping Beauty this year, another top-quality production with a magical mix of music, glamour, fooling about, silly jokes and lots of fun for everyone."

Journal2 has an absolutely amazing offer on tickets for this year's show. Don't miss it! See page 2 for details of our Tickets For A Fiver offer, a whopping saving of up to £15 per ticket. The offer runs on Saturday, December 28 and Sunday, December 29 and includes matinee and evening performances.

Tickets: £13 to £20. Family tickets: £46 to £60. Box office: 01271 324242.

The Panto Of The Opera or The Phantom's Menace

Plough Arts Centre, Torrington

Thursday, December 19 to Saturday, December 21, 7.30pm.

Saturday matinee: 2.30pm

A Phantom Of The Opera theme will add merriment to the Torrington Panto.

The seasonal show, performed by local people, is very loosely based around the book The Phantom Of The Opera by Gaston Leroux but there's a hint of Star Wars, with the odd creature or two making an appearance.

"Although it may not sound like a traditional panto, it has all the right ingredients and more," said director Carol Vincent-Smythe. "Lots of singing and dancing, a little love interest, a bumbling duo (Elf and Safe T) and of course a villain or two."

The story is set at the Paris Theatre where the cast are preparing for an opening night. The new owners, however, seem to have taken on more than they bargained for (rats, mice, rain and ballet dancers), but are they worried? No, of course not! There is a show to put on. As things start to go haywire (not just the electrics), how will it all turn out?

"Watch the cast prepare for the opening night of their new production and the pandemonium that ensues as they realise one of their cast is missing," added Carol.

Tickets: £8 (adult), £7.50 (concession), £7 (Plough supporter), £35 or £21 (family). Box office: 01805 624624.

Robin Hood

Theatre Royal, Plymouth

Friday, December 20 to Saturday, January 25

The Plymouth panto is always a big-budget, star-studded affair and it's usually well worth making the long journey to see it. This year's arrow-shooting extravaganza is Robin Hood. It stars TV actor Nigel Havers as the evil Sheriff of Nottingham, theatre star Lee Mead in the title role of Robin Hood and comedy legend Bobby Davro as Will Scarlet.

Playing the role of Nurse Tilly Tick is pantomime veteran Jeffrey Holland (Hi De Hi and You Rang M'Lord).

"We are delighted to have put together such a stellar cast for the South West's biggest pantomime," said Jonathan Kiley, executive producer of Robin Hood. "Plymouth has never seen a pantomime on this scale before and I am sure the production will delight audiences of all ages."

Robin Hood is being staged by Qdos Entertainment, the world's largest pantomime producer, and the company behind the theatre's record-breaking productions of Dick Whittington and Cinderella.

On Thursday, January 23, 1.30pm there will be a relaxed performance for people with an autistic spectrum condition, learning disability or communication disorder.

Tickets: £12 to £38. Box office: 01752 267222 or visit www.theatreroyal.com/panto.


Exeter Corn Exchange

Saturday, December 14 to Sunday, January 5

Cinderella at the Exeter Corn Exchange is the venue to head to if you want to see West End talent. The cast includes the hilarious Daniel Page (Billy Elliot) as Vile-lette, Abi Meller (Phantom Of The Opera) as Fairy Godmother and the stunning Alicia Agneson (Les Miserables) in the title role.

The seasonal show promises to be great entertainment for fans of musicals as much as panto-addicts.

"We really believe in taking the story seriously," said director Ian Trafford. "For many children pantomime is their very first experience of theatre, so we want to make the story as magical as possible."

Tickets: £13 to £19.50. Box office: 01392 665938. Details: www.cinderella-exeter.co.uk.

Jack And The Beanstalk

Princess Theatre, Torquay

Friday, December 13 to Sunday, January 5

You might consider a trip to Torquay to tie in with a spot of seaside Christmas shopping. The Princess Theatre is putting on Jack And The Beanstalk starring The X Factor's Jade Ellis, Last of The Summer Wine's Tom Owen, popular panto funny-man Stuart Wade, Eurovision's Scooch members (Caroline Barnes and Russ Spencer) and Britain's Got Talent semi-finalists Bosum Buddies. Everyone's bean-stalking about it (sorry).

Tickets: around £12. Bookings: 0844 8713023. There may be booking fees.

Oedipuss In Boots

The Wardrobe Theatre

The Bike Shed Theatre, Exeter

Thursday, December 19 to Saturday, December 21

There is always one theatre company keen to produce an alternative to the family-friendly festive fare. This year it's Wardrobe Theatre who are at The Bike Shed in Exeter.

Oedipuss In Boots has an all-male cast and promises to be full of dark, twisted, adult humour, outrageous costumes, hilarious characters and far too much anthropomorphism for its own good. You have been warned!

Tickets: £12 (adult), £8 (concession). Box office: 01392 434169.

Traditionally, post Christmas is the time for local amateur companies to perform their pantos. If your company has a seasonal show, remember to email all the details and pictures to Rosanna Rothery: rrothery@northdevonjournal.co.uk

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