Oh yes it will! Live panto WILL happen at Sheringham – with thousands of children joining in online too.

5th October 2020

A pioneering project is beating the pandemic to keep panto alive in two seaside theatres and scores of Norfolk primary schools.

The scheme will see live performances of a festive fun show at Sheringham Little Theatre, and St George’s Theatre in Great Yarmouth along with a special online screening into children’s classrooms and homes.

And the show being performed could not be more topical – the fairy tale of Rapunzel, a girl kept captive in her own “lockdown” tower, while her long hair grows and grows.

The schools screenings are happening thanks to the Norfolk Music Hub, which promotes music-making among local children, and was seeking to team up with a panto, which are in short supply this year.

Debbie Thompson, director of both theatres, said: “We have done lots of work with the Music Hub, and when I heard they were looking for a panto I said ‘look no further.’

“We have been looking for ways to stage a shortened, socially-distanced panto with a small cast at both venues to reduce the cost risk – and this link-up with the Hub adds an extra dimension to ensure youngsters do not miss out on their annual dose of pantomime.

“In true panto style it’s a real happy ending for all concerned, even before curtain up!”

Rapunzel – The Lockdown Panto is being written and directed by Sheringham Little Theatre panto and summer season regular Nick Earnshaw.

Rapunzel The Lockdown Panto

Charlie Randall as the Prince, Harry Williams as his agent Fantazmo and Emma Riches as Rapunzel,

Great Yarmouth actress Emma Riches, who played Dorothy in last year’s Wizard of Oz panto at St George’s, takes the lead role of Rapunzel. Her Tin Man, Charlie Randall from Aylsham, plays the prince, and her Scarecrow Harry Williams from North Walsham is the prince’s celebrity agent called Fantazmo. Experienced Cromer actress Loraine Metcalfe is the wicked sorceress.

Loraine Metcalfe Rapunzel sorceress

Rapunzel sorceress Loraine Metcalfe

The live stage shows – which are 50 minutes long without an interval – will be at St George’s on December 15, 17, 18 and 19, before switching to Sheringham as a pre-Christmas treat on December 22, 23 and 24.

The live streaming will take place on December 16, filmed with a live band and an audience of invited youngsters at St George’s, whose cabaret-style seating allows for more space and 76 guests in the 220-seater auditorium during Covid restrictions. Sheringham can host 40 people in its 160 seats under current rules.

Children taking part will begin virtual rehearsals in October so they are ready to sing along with gusto.

The sessions will be run by the Come and Sing Company on behalf of the Arts Council-funded Norfolk Music Hub.

During the live screening, which will be captioned and signed, youngsters will be encouraged to get into the festive spirit by dressing up as their favourite panto character, and to post pictures on social media. It will take place at 1.45pm on Wednesday December 16 with a warm up session from 1.30pm.

The Hub’s area manager Krista Ribbons said: “This is a brilliant opportunity for thousands of youngsters – at schools, or studying at home through isolating of home schooling – to get involved in a panto performance and learn along the way about pantomime, the theatre, and to practice the songs using our online resources.”

Tickets to Rapunzel – The Lockdown Panto – are £12 (£8 u-16s) at Sheringham and available via this website.

Schools wanting to find out more should visit The Norfolk Music Hub

Emma Riches as Rapunzel