It’s finally here, the long-awaited, first-ever professional panto at Huddersfield’s Lawrence Batley Theatre.
Opening today and playing to sell-out audiences, the show promises all the magic, music, slapstick and gags of traditional pantomime, with an original script by Andrew Pollard and direction by Joyce Branagh from the famous theatrical family.
Cinderella, which can be seen until Saturday, December 31, has a cast of multi-talented professional actors and musicians but also features a chorus of local children, a number of whom belong to the LBT’s Young Company theatre school.
Taking the title role is Nisa Cole, a Manchester-based actress who was recently seen in the BBC afternoon drama The Moonstone and is perhaps best known for her portrayal of the pupil Amy Porter in two seasons of BBC’s Waterloo Road.
Joining her on stage will be Prince Charming Adam Barlow, whose television credits include Coronation Street; Gareth Cassidy as Buttons; Stephanie Hackett as a female Dandini; Ugly Sisters Richard Hand and Michael Hugo; and Natasha Magigi as the Fairy Godmother.
All the members of the cast have extensive live stage experience.
For director Joyce the panto is a welcome opportunity to work in her home county.
She moved to Todmorden a decade ago and usually spends her working life touring around the country. This is her eighth major panto production, such is her love of the genre.
She promises that audiences will have to do lots of shouting ‘behind you’ and ‘oh yes it is’ while enjoying a mixture of familiar pop songs, specially commissioned music from Rebekah Hughes, musical director, and dance routines choreographed by Rachel Root.
The LBT, which celebrated its 25th anniversary last year, took the decision to host a panto this year after many years of staging a Christmas show.
It would appear the gamble has paid off as the panto is already fully booked on a number of dates, including New Year’s Eve.
Matinee performances are busy, but there is still availability for evening performances, particularly those between Christmas and New Year.
Visit www.thelbt.org.uk or call 01484 430528 for details.
Ticket prices range from £10 to £17, with multi-ticket discounts.
The theatre has audio-described, sign language and relaxed performances on December 15, 20 and 19 respectively.
If you can’t get to see Cinderella then Huddersfield Light Opera Company is producing Dick Whittington at the LBT from Saturday, January 7, 2017, until Saturday, January 14.
See next week’s Examiner (Thursday, December 15) for a behind-the-scenes Cinderella feature and interviews.