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All you need to know about Suffolk's virtual pantos you can watch from home this year, including Alice in Wonderland, Cinderella and the Snow Queen

Theatres across Suffolk and beyond have made plans to bring us a little bit of festive normality in our homes this panto season, despite restrictions on live events, writes Robbie Nichols.

Over the Christmas period, a number of theatres are hosting productions online – while a few are still going ahead with live audiences – for those seeking some family fun, and a way of supporting the entertainment industry in what has been a difficult year.

So, if you’re looking for some 'It's behind you!' Christmas cheer, these could be the virtual pantos for you.

Jack and the Beanstalk panto, filmed and directed by Blue Peter legend Peter Duncan - tickets are being sold by Ipswich Regent Theatre
Jack and the Beanstalk panto, filmed and directed by Blue Peter legend Peter Duncan - tickets are being sold by Ipswich Regent Theatre

Suffolk virtual pantos

Alice in Wonderland, from the Red Rose Chain Theatre Company, Ipswich

Following the success of their Theatre in the Forest at Home production, The Red Rose Chain Theatre company will be streaming their reimagining of Alice in Wonderland to itch your pantomime needs this festive season.

Through the power of green screen, the show brings together a cast of 20 actors, including West End star Joanna Sawyer.

Their ‘topsy-turvy adventure into Wonderland’ will be raising vital funds for the local community projects that Red Rose Chain supports for disadvantaged young people and adults with disabilities.

The show will premiere on Friday, December 18 at 7pm, and will be available to stream until January 3. Tickets start at £10.


Cinderella, at the Spa Pavilion, Felixstowe

The Spa Pavilion’s Cinderella has all the usual suspects – Buttons, the Ugly Sisters, the Evil Stepmother, and of course Cinderella herself – but this time Cinderella needs your help to get to the ball.

The theatre have implemented what they call a ‘triple lock guarantee’ to make sure you see their pantomime.

If any performances are affected by the coronavirus then ticketholders will get their tickets allocated to another show and they will also receive an exclusive link to see a livestream of the show currently planned to go ahead on New Year’s Day.

Cinderella will begin performances on December 19 and will close its doors on January 3. Tickets vary in price depending on the type of ticket purchased, starting at £12 for under 16s and £20 for adults.


The Snow Queen, at Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich

Peter Rowe’s Rock ‘n’ Roll panto follows the story of Gerda who has to save her childhood sweetheart Kay after his heart has been frozen by the Snow Queen.

The show features well known music such as ‘I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)’, ‘Love on Top’, and ‘I Can See Clearly Now’.

Featuring a cast of five, the show will be performed live at the Wolsey Theatre each night and livestreamed directly into your home.

It is promised to be “a sumptuous spread of music, mischief and mayhem for all the family”.

Shows begin on December 17 and will run until Christmas Eve, with both matinee and evening performances. Tickets for the livestream are £25.


Jack and the Beanstalk, by Peter Duncan

‘Blue Peter’ legend Peter Duncan’s popular homemade show will be streamed online this festive season thanks to Ipswich Regent Theatre.

Filmed in his own back garden, the acclaimed writer, director and panto dame created the show as an online alternative for families to watch at home over Christmas.

Peter Duncan said: “When I had the initial idea for Panto Online, I naively though we might shoot a traditional panto guerilla-style on mobile phones, but that evolved and was upscaled as I recruited the cast and production team – who were all friends and colleagues I’d worked with before on other projects.

"I’m thrilled that it gave work to 35 unemployed actors and freelance creatives.”

The livestream is available to watch daily until January 2. Tickets are £25 per household.


Pantos from neighbouring counties

Cinderella, at the Mercury Theatre, Colchester

The Colchester theatre are streaming their 2019 panto for one night only right into the comfort of your homes.

The show was filmed in front of an audience of over 800 back in 2019 and broke records for the theatre.

In their words, “Cinderella is the perfect festive fix for the whole family to enjoy and will leave you singing all the way to the sofa – just don’t leave your slippers behind!”

The show will be streamed online on December 19. Tickets are £6.


My First Panto: Goldilocks and the Three Bears, at The Garage, Norwich

Aimed at families with children aged 7 and below, The Garage’s latest panto offering will see the Goldilocks fairy-tale we all know and love transported to the Wild West.

The Three Bears live happily in the Wild West and are enjoying Old Man Rogers’ annual rodeo, until infamous bandit Goldilocks turns up to cause havoc.

The panto is now available to stream. Get access for 48 hours for £10.99.


... Or something a little different

Cinderella Live, by PantoLive

Dubbed as the first ever interactive online panto, Cinderella Live can be streamed anywhere including tablets, laptops, PCs, and smart TVs.

The cast – including Chris Rankin, who played Percy Weasley in the Harry Potter films, and Hollyoaks cast member Jessica Ellis – will be acting in front of a completely virtual set, powered by video game technology.

There are also interactive buttons you can use to react to what’s happening on stage – including an essential ‘It’s Behind You’ button.

Livestreams of the show start on December 18, with the final show happening on Christmas Eve. Tickets cost £19.97.


Snow White in the Seven Months of Lockdown, by Charles’ Court Opera

Charles’ Court Opera have spent the last 7 months pre-recording their interactive panto for everyone to stream directly into their living rooms on their device of choice.

The company offer both a family version and an adult version for those who maybe want a more adult-friendly version of the show.

What makes this panto different however is that you decide what happens.

You’ll be given different options throughout the show that will directly affect how the story unfolds.

The show is available to stream on demand from now, until January 3, with a standard ticket costing £25 per household.


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