Oh, yes it is! Panto season

Essex Pantomimes

Essex Pantomimes - Credit: Archant

It is panto season across the county with a wide selection of our theatres and drama groups bringing us the best of Christmas cheer live on stage. Here are just some of the highlights to look out for

6 December ‘13 -5 January ‘14

Times vary

Dick Whittington

Harlow Playhouse, Playhouse Square, Harlow CM20 1LS

A long, long time ago, a boy by the name of Richard Whittington set off from his westerly home, following his dreams for a new life in the City of London. Little did he know he was to become entwined in a thrilling struggle between London’s virtuous Fairy of the Bells and her villainous sister, Queen of the Rats. Rebecca Keatley from CBeebies’ Let’s Play stars as Dick Whittington and commented: ‘Dick Wittington is one of the few pantos to be inspired by an English story. What’s lovely for audiences is the historical link between the real Dick Whittington and this part of the UK. It’s really exciting to be playing the part here.’

Playing Fairy of the Bells, Channel 5 presenter Jen Pringle said: ‘We have great surprises in store, even for those who think they know the story. For example, my character magically transforms one of her fairies into a cat. We have also secured a third-generation Russian circus aerialist to play Dick’s feline companion for the production, so unexpected thrills are guaranteed along the way.’

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Admission £15-17


4 December ‘13- 5 January ‘14

Times vary


Towngate Theatre, St Martin’s Square, Basildon SS14 1DL

Rapunzel tells the traditional story of the beautiful young girl being trapped in a tower until she is rescued by her prince charming. This wonderful fairy tale follows Rapunzel and her best friend Simple Simon, along with a mix of fun characters who set out on a quest to free her from the hands of the evil witch.

Simon Fielding, the director and lead actor of this year’s pantomime starring as Simple Simon, said: ‘Disney told the story of Tangled, which also told the tale of Rapunzel, and children all over the world have grown to love this story. We wanted to be different and create a spectacular Christmas show for all the family that they will thoroughly love and enjoy.’

Admission prices vary

01268 465465

6 December ‘13- 5 January ‘14

Times vary

Jack and the Beanstalk

Thameside Theatre, Orsett Road, Grays RM17 SDX

Jack and the Beanstalk is a great hit with all the family, whether you are three or 103 years old. And it won’t cost you a bag of magic beans to come and see fantastic singing, dancing, and a large dose of comedy, sparkle, magic and spectacle thrown in for good measure! Leading the cast are Eastenders star Natalie Cassidy as the Fairy, Essex Boy Jay Perry will be playing Jack and West End star Wain Douglas plays Dame Tilly Trott.

Admission £12.50-£14.50


6 December ‘13 -11 January ‘14

Times vary

Sleeping Beauty

Mercury Theatre, Balkerne Gate, Colchester CO1 1PT

Once upon a time, in a glittering castle in a land far, far away, friends and family gather to celebrate a baby’s birth, with her Godmothers bestowing gifts of beauty, wit and grace. But not everyone’s in the mood for celebrating. One very bad-tempered guest that the King and Queen forgot to invite has turned up anyway with a terrible curse to announce.

Prince Charming, AKA Jonny Fines, adds: ‘I really like the concept of the panto and I’m very excited for you all to come along. Expect a ‘futuristic twist’ in particular!’

This production is recommended for children aged 3+ years.

Admission £10-£25

01206 573948

14 December ‘13- 1 January ‘14

Times vary

Peter Pan

Princes Theatre, Station Road, Clacton on Sea C015 1SE

This Christmas everyone can be a child as they fly to Neverland with Peter Pan and his friends. Cheer the impish Tinker Bell and boo and hiss at the evil pirate Captain Hook, in this all singing and dancing Christmas pantomime. JM Barrie’s Peter Pan is undoubtedly one of the most famous and best-loved stories for children; an unforgettable magical fantasy that has been enjoyed by generations for over a hundred years. The production stars TV presenter and reality star Jeff Brazier.

Admission Prices from £12.50

01255 686633

4 December ‘13- 5 January ‘14

Times vary


Civic Centre, Duke Street, Chelmsford CM1 1JE

Cinderella has just lost her beloved father and has been put in the care of her stepmother who has two daughters of her own. To pay her way, Cinderella is made to live below the stairs and has to do all the cleaning, mending and cooking for her lazy step family! Will Cinderella be rescued by her prince and live happily ever after? Admission £17-£20

01245 606505

24 November ’13 -4 January ‘14

Times vary

Jack and the Beanstalk

The Broadway, Barking IG117LS

Fee-fi-fo-fum! Jack and the Beanstalk will entertain you royally with everything you would expect from a traditional festive treat and a whole lot more! It promises to be a laugh-a-minute romp, with loads of songs, surprises, dancing and general joining in fun and silliness. Starring former EastEnders actress and recording star Michelle Gayle as the Fairy, making it all magical. This production promises to be tremendous fun for the whole family.

Admission: Children and concessions £13, adults £16, family ticket (for four) £54


12 December ‘13- 14 January ‘14

Times vary


Kenneth More Theatre, Oakfield Road, Ilford IG1 1BT

A long time ago in the far off city of Ilford (just North of Peking), lived a boy called Aladdin. He dreams of marrying a beautiful Princess, but unfortunately the law decrees that the Princess may only marry a Prince, and it looks as though Aladdin’s dream may never come true. This sparkling production contains all the usual pantomime ingredients of spectacular scenery, magical effects, dazzling costumes, and plenty of songs, laughter and adventure!

Admission: Prices vary

020 8553 4466

13 December ‘13- 4 January ‘14

Times vary

Snow White

Cliffs Pavilion, Station Road, Southend on Sea SS0 7RA

Craig Revel Horwood will be leading the cast as the wicked Queen, with Lisa Riley playing Lisa the lady’s maid. With more than a little cha-cha-cha, acid-tongued choreographer Craig is hitting the Southend stage as the ultimate pantomime baddie! Expect stunning costumes, fabulous sets, great songs and an abundance of comedy, making Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs a production for the whole family to enjoy!

Admission Prices vary

01702 351135

30 December ’13 -11 January ‘14

Times vary

Dick Whittington

Queen´s Theatre Hornchurch, Billet Lane, Hornchurch RM11 1QT

Join loveable Dick Wittington and his loyal cat for a rags-to-riches musical extravaganza. Dick is off to London to seek fame and fortune, but he’ll need your help! Come cheer, hiss and sing along as our hero and his loveable sidekick, Puss, travel to exotic lands and mystical worlds. Will our hero defeat the evil King Rat and his terrible gang of vile vermin? Will he win the love of beautiful Alice?

Alison Thea-Skot plays Dick Whittington and said: ‘The Queen’s Theatre, knows how to put on a traditional family panto, with a few surprises! It’s wonderful to be back in the role of Dick Whittington, the audiences last year were fantastic.’

Admission £12.50- £26.50

01708 443333

1 December ’13- 4 January ‘14

7.30pm and Saturday Matinee 2.30pm

West Cliff Theatre and Arts Centre, Tower Road, Clacton on Sea CO15 1LE

Clacton Musical Theatre Society brings the wonderful story of the street urchin who becomes a Prince, all in the name of love. There’s going to be lots of fun and madness along the way, with Aladdin, Dame Widow Twankey, the Emperor and Empress. With plenty of audience participation, make sure you are ready to hiss and boo the baddies, and shout hooray for the goodies! Join in for a feast of comedy, dance and song during this festive season.

Admission: Adults £11, concessions & children £10 and family £31

01255 43 33 44