Lockdown adds gags and challenges for panto writer

20th November 2020

It will be a pantomime cow like you’ve never seen before – with the front and back ends socially distanced!

That will be part of the festive fun in a special Rapunzel Lockdown Panto gearing up to do live shows at Sheringham and Great Yarmouth – and to a 65,000-strong streamed audience of schoolchildren.

Lockdown has provided challenges for writer and director Nick Earnshaw – but also plenty of opportunities to put a new and topical slant on the traditional panto recipe.

“There will be puppetry and plenty of ‘it’s behind you’ audience interaction’ – but lockdown and Covid are part of the mix too. The current situation is no laughing matter, but it has become part of the fun,” he explained.

“The prince and his agent have the challenge of being the two socially distanced halves of a panto cow. Everyone is in lockdown – but because there is a dragon in the forest rather than Covid – and the prince has to use Zoom.”

The 50-minute shows will be at St George’s Theatre in Yarmouth on December 15, 17, 18 and 19 and Sheringham Little Theatre on December 22, 23 and 24.

But while the live shows will be in front of reduced, socially-distanced, audiences, a December 16 live-streamed version now has a massive 65,000 children signed up to see it. They are currently working with teachers, through the Norfolk Music Hub, to learn the singalong songs – including The Final Countdown and Dance Monkey – ready to join in on the day.

“The biggest difficulty has been trying to boil the plot, characters, comedy and seven songs down to 50 minutes,” said Nick.

“But I am very proud of the result, particularly the opening sequences which involve the four-strong cast setting the scene by playing multiple characters.

“Getting it all to come right against the clock seemed like playing a giant panto Rubik’s Cube.”

To book tickets, which are £12 (£8 u-16s) at Sheringham and £10 (£6 u-16s) at Great Yarmouth, please visit the websites www.sheringhamlittletheatre.com or www.stgeorgestheatre.com

Sheringham Little Theatre Rapunzel Lockdown panto writer and director Nick Earnshaw