Uniquely British, the pantomime showcases the marriage between the traditional and unconventional. As the season approaches, Bury St Edmunds’ Theatre Royal get ready to bring you their best show yet!
By Anna Scrafield
At the Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds, the biggest production of the year, Panto, is well underway! Each year, thousands visit the theatre to enjoy this festive tradition – this year’s panto Aladdin is no exception, Box Office are glued to their telephones, taking bookings for the rapidly filling shows, with over 15,000 people already booked in and some performances nearly sold out! Meanwhile, in keeping with the theme of tradition, the Theatre Royal has welcomed back Bury St Edmunds’ favourite dame, James Nickerson, as Widow Twankey!
The cast of this year’s pantomime, Aladdin, bounded into the Guildhall on Monday 11 November and started our theatrical countdown as they kicked off two and a half weeks of rehearsals.
By the time you read this, rehearsals will be over and the production will have hit the stage in all its colourful anarchic festive glory, but what went on behind the scenes before the show made it to the stage?
Starting with some coffee and cake, the cast all met one another, Theatre Royal staff, and the production team for the first time at the Guildhall before going straight into a read-through of the script.
This is always exciting as people get to grips with their role, start to make notes in the margins, listen to the songs they’ll be performing, ad-lib some jokes and start to settle into their character. Then followed two and a half weeks of organised chaos as Tim Welton, our director, combined song, dance, silliness, a hilarious script and a cast of talented (and very energetic) performers to create an explosive pantomime!
Throughout the rehearsal period, the cast were also kept busy as they made guest appearances around the town, with photos in the newspaper, spots on local radio stations (including a Big Dame Showdown quiz with Widow Twankey going head-to-head with other local panto dames) they offered a helping hand at the Christmas Lights Switch-On and Jasmine and her overbearing mother The Empress Double-Chinn even took a trip to a local supermarket!
So this Christmas in Bury St Edmunds, you can be sure to expect a hearty chorus of hissing and booing, lots of singing and of course the inimitable Widow Twankey bringing us silliness and sauciness, whilst making sure to surprise and amaze as the Theatre Royal brings you a new spin on an old favourite!
Aladdin runs from 29 Sept 2013 – 12 Jan 2014. Various performance times, call box office on 01284 769505 for booking and details. Or visit their website on www.theatreroyal.org.