PANTOMIME: All the pantos in West Sussex and further afield
Up and down the country, grown men are getting ready to slip into tights and outrageous wigs; girls are about to pretend to be handsome princes; and the corniest gags are being dusted off.
The mad, mad world of pantomime is about to descend on the UK, with Sussex, Surrey and Hampshire offering a particularly rich choice of festive delights this year.
As ever, Worthing is offering a double dose of panto, with Robinson Crusoe at the Connaught Theatre and Cinderella at the Pavilion.
Continuing the Connaught's quest for off-the-beaten-track pantos, Robinson Crusoe (December 3-January 3) stars Tracy Shaw, Maxine from Coronation Street.
Cinderella (December 10 to January 3), promising a sparkling tale of magic, mischief and midnight, features Todd Carty as Buttons and Lucinda Kennard from Dream Team as Cinderella. T
ickets for both on 01903 206206.
It's a good few years now since Chichester Festival Theatre last staged a panto.
Instead, in recent times, the Christmas slot on the main-house stage goes to Chichester Festival Youth Theatre.
This year, their production is The Snow Queen (December 16 to 31), by Hans Christian Andersen in a new musical adaptation, with book by Bryony Lavery and music and lyrics by Jason Carr.
The directors will be Dale Rooks and Abigail Graham.
This town in The Snow Queen used to be full of children.
It was like bottled sun.
Then something went wrong '“ and Kay has changed; he's become arithmetical, anti-girl, awkward and argumentative.
Is it because he is a teenager, or is it something more sinister? Then one night Kay vanishes...
His best friend Gerda enlists Granny Snow to help her find him.
Armed only with her red kicking boots, some pots of honey and some geriatric magic, their perilous journey carries them down an
ice-packed river, among flowers more dangerous than a Venus fly-trap, a kidnapping by an awesomely-terrifying robber girl, some frenzied media attention, talking reindeer and a lot of snow as they pursue the terrifying Professor Storm and her ice warrior students.
Tickets on 01243 781312.
Bognor's Regis Centre is a venue which has returned to panto in the past three years, impressively building audiences which it will hope to increase once again with this year's offering, Peter Pan (December 10 to January 3).
Spillers Pantomimes are promising the most spectacular pantomime ever staged at the venue, with a big professional cast and the chance meet the pirates, lost boys and Indians, visit the mermaid lagoon and cheer Snappy the ticking crocodile.
Tickets on 01243 861010.
Peter Pan also flies into the Brighton Theatre Royal this Christmas (tickets on 08700 606 650) for a panto run from December 4 to January 3.
Hot on the heels of Theatre Royal Brighton's most successful Christmas show The Wizard of Oz last year, comes 'this truly marvellous musical extravaganza to enthral children of all ages and the adults who never grew up' '“ the venue promises.
Meanwhile, Julian Clary is Dandini at the Hawth in Crawley where the pantomime is Cinderella (December 12 to January 3).
Julian will be joined on stage by Vicky Longley (Genie In The House) as Cinderella, Grease Is The Word winner Danny Bayne as the Prince and Joe Tracini (My Spy Family and Coming Of Age) as Buttons.
From the same producers as last year's hit show, Cinderella will be The Hawth's most glittering pantomime yet, the venue says.
Tickets on 01293 553636.
Over at Horsham, the Capitol is also staging Cinderella this year (December 10 to January 3) starring Cbeebies presenter Justin Fletcher as Buttons (tickets on 01403 750220).
Following last year's record-breaking success with Peter Pan, the Capitol is bullish about 2009, announcing 'a production with all the magic and enchantment that a pantomime can provide, sumptuous sets and costumes, comedy, romance, bags of audience participation, great song and dance numbers and a sprinkling of pantomime magic'.
TV's Cavegirl Stacey Cadman is Cinderella, and West End performers Billy Boyle and Sara Weymouth play Baron Hardup and the Fairy Godmother.
The Capitol is also offering festive entertainment in the Studio, with The Night Before Christmas from December 8 to 24).
'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there...
But if you're wanting a date with yet another Cinderella, head for Guildford's Yvonne Arnaud Cinderella.
The show features Gethin Jones as Prince Charming, Nichola McAuliffe as Fairy Godmother, Hilary O'Neil as Dandini, Royce Mills as Baron Hardup, 96.4 Eagle Radio's Peter Gordon and Jack Edwards as the Ugly Sisters, Lloyd Hollett as Buttons and Rebecca Brewer as Cinderella (December 4 to January 10; tickets on 01483 440000).
Aladdin is at the Kings in Southsea from December 9-January 3 (tickets on 023 9282 8282), featuring Lisa Riley who's delighted to be back.
"I see venues all over the country, but this is the venue I love," she says.
"There are some venues that stay in your heart, and this is one of them. It's a lovely family place for pantomimes, and it is run by lovely people who keep it going."
Up the road in Southampton, The Mayflower Theatre are promising 'the pantomime to warm your heart this Christmas', Santa Claus And The Return Of Jack Frost, starring Stephen Mulhern, Robin Cousins, Sam Bond (Atlas in Sky TV's the Gladiators), and Roy Barraclough as Santa Claus (December 11 to January 16). Tickets on 023 8071 1811.
Back in Portsmouth, the New Theatre Royal is offering Alice in Wonderland (December 17 to January 2) '“ 'not a pantomime, but a beautiful family musical telling the well-known story with live music, songs and lots of laughs'. Tickets on 023 9264 9000.
At Chequer Mead, East Grinstead, the Company of Friends presents Aladdin (December 19 to 30) '“ a magical family Christmas treat and the tenth Chequer Mead panto from the company.
The tale gives you the chance to follow Aladdin's exciting adventure through his rags-to-riches story, meet the Genie of the Ring and
the Genie of the Lamp and see him ride on a magic carpet and foil wicked Uncle Abanazar.
Tickets on 01342 302000.
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