Panto Season 2013

It may only be February, but over 110 theatres have already announced their pantomime titles, a list of which can be found by clicking on the link to the right. Panto Season 2012 may have only just ended, but 2013 looks sets to be the most diverse in terms of pantomime titles.

Interestingly, London will see two Puss in Boots, at Hackney and Greenwich, whilst Basildon produces Rapunzel and less frequently produced titles Pinocchio and Goldilocks get produced at the Glasgow and Gorleston Pavilions. Currently, Jack and the Beanstalk is the most popular title accounting for 18% of the season having knocked Cinderella and Aladdin off the top spot. Cinderella comes in second with 14%, Snow White and Sleeping Beauty are tied with 12% each, whilst Aladdin is demoted to fourth place with 11%.

Perhaps Jack’s popularity is due to the release of film Jack the Giant Slayer scheduled for Spring 2013 starring Nicholas Hault, Bill Nighy and Ewan McGregor, which will also feature a pantomime in the film’s prologue. However, we must not forget that it is only February and with many production companies and theatres still to confirm their titles, there is still plenty of room for change.

As well as titles, we also know a great deal about who will be performing in panto season 2013. The Chuckle Brothers will headline Aladdin in Darlington, with Billy Pearce taking the title role in Bradford. The Joburg Theatre, South Africa is also producing Aladdin, which will star Jeremy Mansfield and Christopher Jaftha, whilst Berwick Kaler gets ready to write, co-direct and play Dame in his fifth Aladdin for York Theatre Royal, this time titled Aladdin and the Twankies.

After two sell-out seasons, Jedward return to the Olympia Theatre, Dublin in Beauty and the Beast and Andrew Pollard returns to the Greenwich Theatre to write, direct and star in Puss in Boots, whilst also writing Salisbury’s Dick Whittington and Watford’s Robin Hood.

Sevenoaks regulars Anna Kumble and Tony Haygarth will play the Forest Fairy and Friar Tuck in Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood at The Stag, which marks regular Dame and Comic duo Robert Pearce and Ant Payne’s last at the theatre after a residency of five years.

Allan Stewart, Andy Gray and Grant Stott return to the Edinburgh King’s to star in Peter Pan, whilst May McFettridge will be back at the Belfast Opera House in the same title. Craig Revel Horwood swaps Ann Widdecombe for Lisa Riley in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in Southend and having toured the country in Sleeping Beauty since 2009, Joe Pasquale is set to play Muddles at Wolverhampton’s Grand Theatre as Kim Hartman and Vicki Michelle battle it out as the title’s Good and Bad Fairy in Middlesbrough.

Clive Webb, Danny Adams and Chris Hayward return for another year at the Theatre Royal Newcastle and their first Jack and the Beanstalk as a panto trio, whilst Keith Chegwin returns to the the Wyvern Theatre for his third season in Swindon. Fine Time Fontayne and Richard J Fletcher will be back at the Oldham Coliseum for another season together and in Nottingham Kenneth Alan Taylor will say goodbye to the Playhouse with this 30th panto at the venue. Jack and the Beanstalk will also be produced at the Bolton Halls starring Stu Francis, Ben Ryan-Davis and Charlie Cairoli Jnr, the latter two appearing in Duggie Chapman’s production in Billingham during 2012.

With much casting still to be done, there are plenty of opportunities to get involved with the season ahead. The British Theatre Guide’s Panto Auditions and Technical Positions 2013 page is now live and will be updated at regular intervals throughout the year. For those actors wanting to learn a bit more about the genre, its conventions and traditions, Magic Beans Productions have launched ‘The Panto Course’, which will take place in March.

Panto Season 2012 may be over, but for those who just can’t wait for some panto fun, a number of professional productions are scheduled for the coming months. PMA’s panto version of Peter Pan will run at the Forum Theatre, Billingham in February half term. Later in the year, adult panto Snow White and the Seven Poofs returns for an Easter residency at the Green Carnation, whilst in Blackpool The Wizard of Oz is set to delight families at the North Pier Theatre with Grace Adams Short as the Wicked Witch. Easter will also see Enchanted Entertainment tour a new pantomime version of Rapunzel starring Peter Duncan, Kay Purcell, Jenny Jones and Jon Moses, whilst their production of The Wizard of Oz starring Bobby Davro and Sarah-Jane Honeywell also goes out on the road to a number of venues in England.

With 2012 behind us, here’s to 2013.