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East theatres filled with festive cheer

  • Date: 21 December 2011
  • Area: South East
man dressed as a pantomine nurse

Will Kenning as Dame Nellie in New Wolsey Theatre's 'Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood, the rock ‘n’ roll panto'. Credit: courtesy New Wolsey Theatre

The East region's theatres and touring companies are helping to get audiences young and old into the festive spirit in the run up to Christmas.

In Cambridge, Escalator-supported company New International Encounter (NIE) is bringing The Brothers Grimm fairytale Hansel and Gretel to sparkling life at The Junction until 2 January 2012. The show blends live music, puppetry, songs, clowning, storytelling and a dusting of powdery snow.

NIE is an award-winning collaboration between theatre practitioners from across Europe including Norway, Poland, Czech Republic, Belgium, Spain, Denmark, France and the UK.  Working with European stories, they aim to create theatre that is comic and tragic and ridiculous. Tickets for Hansel and Gretel are £11 or £29 for a family ticket and £6.50 concessions. To find dates and times of performances  go to The Junction's website.

Meanwhile, Arts Council funded New Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich is playing Peter Rowe's festive production of Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood, the rock 'n' roll panto, until 28 January 2012. This reinterpretation of the traditional tale provides an engaging adventure story for children and adults alike. More than 30,000 people went to see last year's show so early booking is strongly recommended. Tickets for both shows can be booked online on the New Wolsey Theatre website or by calling the New Wolsey Box Office on 01473 295900.

Also showing in Ipswich over the festive season is Eastern Angles' comedy Round the Twist at the Sir John Mills Theatre until 7 January 2012. Over the years Eastern Angles' reputation for producing anarchic comedy has grown and this year the company has reunited the actors behind the comedy Mansfield Park & Ride for a new, amusing take on the stories of Charles Dickens. The Evening Star described the production as, 'An anarchic romp through the works of Charles Dickens which ticks all the boxes.'

Fans of classic fairytale Jack and the Beanstalk will love Watford Palace Theatre's production, following the adventures of Jack, Dame Trott and their friends. The panto will run until 31 December with tickets starting at £12. To find out more, watch the video trailer and see interviews with the cast, go to the Watford Palace Theatre website.

In Colchester, the Mercury Theatre is offering a double hit of yuletide cheer starting with their panto production of Beauty and the Beast, running until 7 January 2012. Then, on 12 January, A Christmas Carol extends the merriment with an interpretation of Lewis Carroll's story. Book tickets for either performance by visiting the theatre's website and following the links provided.

Other winter productions not to miss in the region this Christmas include Dick Whittington, at Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds until 15 January 2012, and Cinderella, at Cambridge Arts Theatre until 15 January 2012.