It’s curtains up on panto time in East Sussex! Oh no it isn’t, oh yes it is! And once again families across the county will be spoilt for choice if they’re in search of villains to boo, heroes to cheer, jokes to groan at and songs to sing a-long with.
It’s behind you!
The stories might be different but at all the shows the audiences are likely to enjoy slapstick, double-entendre, dames in extravagant costumes cracking risqué non-PC jokes, a villain who enters from stage left, dancing, and tales of love and triumph. And, of course, no panto will be complete without audience participation with “it’s behind you” surely included in all scripts at some stage.
Aladdin and his magic lamp will take up residence in Eastbourne this year, while Hastings will play host to Beauty and the Beast. Meanwhile Cinderella will go to the ball twice – in Peacehaven in December and then again in Polegate in January, and Dick Whittington will turn again but not for London, for Hailsham instead.
Audiences in Uckfield will be doing their best to wake The Sleeping Beauty while Long John Silver will have a leg to stand on in Crowborough as Treasure Island takes to the stage. Mother Goose will fly into Lewes to ruffle a few festive feathers, while in another part of Eastbourne Jack will be climbing his beanstalk. There’s a bit of a break with tradition in Bexhill where Elf The Musical promises something a bit different.
A Christmas tradition
Panto is as part of Christmas in the UK as Brussel sprouts, Christmas Pudding, the Monarch’s Speech, and over-indulgence. But the origins of this very British tradition are hotly debated: Some say it stems from the Tudor “Feast of Fools”, an unruly event, involving much drinking, revelry and role reversal. But others insist it developed from Italian street theatre in the 16th Century. Small theatrical companies toured in Italy and France, setting up in market places and fairgrounds to tell stories of the old man Pantalone and the clown Pierrot.
But whatever the truth, the fact remains that pantos in town theatres, village halls, schools and other venues across East Sussex – many of them performed by local theatre groups – promise to give us a fun treat this Christmas…”oh yes they do!”
Some of this year’s East Sussex pantos:
Aladdin – Eastbourne
Devonshire Park Theatre
9 Dec to 15 Jan
Jack and The Beanstalk – Eastbourne
Royal Hippodrome Theatre, Seaside
12 Dec to 2 Jan
Beauty and The Beast – Hastings
White Rock Theatre, White Rock, Hastings
15 to 31 Dec
Treasure Island – Crowborough
Crowborough Community Centre, Pine Grove, Crowborough
8, 10 and 11 Dec
Cinderella – Peacehaven
The Meridian Centre, Meridian Way, Peacehaven
2 to 10 Dec
The Sleeping Beauty – Uckfield
Uckfield Civic Centre
16 and 17 Dec
Cinderella – Polegate
Polegate Community Centre
15 to 23 Jan
Mother Goose – Lewes
St. Mary’s Social Centre, Christie Road
7 to 14 Jan
Dick Whittington – Hailsham
25 to 29 Jan
Elf: The Musical – Bexhill
De La Warr Pavilion
21 to 24 Dec