What happens when you mix a classic fairy story with stars from Eastenders and Coronation Street…with a large dose of comedy and a good helping of song and dance? This year’s Norwich Theatre Royal Panto: Sleeping Beauty (one of our all time favourites).
The Norwich Theatre Royal pantomime opens on 13th December 2017 and runs until 14th January 2018.
To get you in the festive mood read on to discover who is starring alongside, seasoned Theatre Royal Panto comedy double-act, the amazing Richard Gauntlett ‘Mrs Midges’ and Ben Langley ‘Muddles Midges’, in this years traditional family Pantomime. Let’s meet the cast…
Elizabeth Carter, will play the title role of Sleeping Beauty – ‘Patience Midges’. It will be a return to Norwich for Elizabeth after she starred in ‘Dreamboats And Petticoats’ in the summer, the latest in a string of musicals and plays she has starred in. During Dreamboats, Elizabeth was wearing Fifties and Sixties costumes and she says she is looking forward to going back even further in time for this year’s family-friendly musical show, which begins its story in a grand country house at the turn of the last century.
Elizabeth reveals: “It will start in the 1900s, so I am very excited about the costumes. Halfway through the show, Sleeping Beauty will prick her finger and then it will whizz forward 100 years to more modern times.” Elizabeth cannot wait to spend the festive season in Norwich. She said: “I love all of the unique little shops and boutiques that Norwich has to offer. I have been touring in shows for six years and go to lots of different places, but Norwich is very special. It is so pretty.” Aaaaah, thank you Elizabeth. We agree!
Elizabeth will star opposite Glenn Adamson, who plays the Prince – ‘Hon. Timothy Norbridge’, her love interest in the show and a character from very high-class stock. Glenn, who also has a strong acting pedigree in musicals and plays, said his character will be “a typical young posh boy who comes from money. This young girl comes into his life who is not from his world and he is enamoured by her. She is also a very strong independent woman, so they are very different and I think that is what sparks his interest.”
Joining them is Stephen Godward, who plays the ‘Father of the Prince’ and ‘Lord of the Manor – Lord Teddy Norbridge’ in the production. He boasts a strong background in the light opera world and is looking forward to starring in a Panto for the first time. He said: “I have always loved pantomime because of its diversity of characters and the over-the-top nature of it. It is so much fun and I love the way the audience comes back and enjoys it year after year thanks to the music, comedy, spectacle and humour.”
The trio will star opposite EastEnders favourite Gillian Wright, who is the Panto Baddie – ‘Dowager Aunt Vipera’ (Boo, Hiss!) Quite a different character to one of the BBC soap’s most memorable residents, Jean Slater!
Gillian has played Stacey Slater’s Mum in EastEnders since she first joined the soap in December 2004. If you do not watch Eastenders, Gillian (a true Walford icon) is known for her impressive cardigan collection and the ability to rustle up culinary creations such as Sausage Surprise! and Jean’s Fishy Basket. But, her character has also battled adversity, from an ongoing battle with bipolar disorder to difficult relationships with her son Sean and daughter Stacey.
In addition to EastEnders, Gillian has also appeared in many of television’s most watched shows, including Holby City, Spooks, The Bill, Silent Witness and Coronation Street. She is no stranger to the West End stage either and most recently played Mary Featherstone in How the Other Half Loves at the Theatre Royal Haymarket alongside Nicholas le Provost, Tamzin Outhwaite & Jason Merrells. Gillian has also appeared in several other pantomimes playing both a Good Fairy and a Baddie.
Judy Foster, communications officer at the theatre, said: “Gillian is a highly-experienced actor and we’re thrilled that she is joining our Panto family for this year’s festive treat. She can leave all the trials and tribulations of Albert Square behind for a short while to spread some festive cheer to audiences in Norfolk. ”
Twelve years after he last appeared in a Norwich Panto, actor and children’s television legend Derek Griffiths is also joining the cast of Sleeping Beauty. Best-known to a generation of TV viewers for hosting classic children’s programmes, Play School and Play Away, Derek more recently became a familiar face to soap followers for his portrayal of motor-bike loving and mild-mannered mechanic Freddie Smith in Coronation Street.
Derek first won the hearts of Norwich Panto-goers when he appeared in the 2005-2006 Theatre Royal production of Peter Pan, playing Captain Hook with Richard Gauntlett in the title role and Rikki Jay as Smee. He also appeared in the Theatre Royal’s star-studded production of Twelfth Night at Houghton Hall in 2007, which raised funds for major refurbishments at the theatre.
Derek is thrilled to be making a return visit, this time as ‘Chortwood’, a butler with special powers!
He said: “Norwich Pantos are real class, and so are the audiences, of which I have fond memories!”
As a children’s presenter, Derek endeared himself to generations of tea-time television viewing children over a three-decade period from the 1960s to the 1980s, and his impressive acting CV includes working with the Royal Shakespeare Company for two years and appearing in numerous West End productions including as the Child Catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, the original production of Beauty and the Beast, Miss Saigon and Two Gentlemen of Verona. His television appearances have included Holby City, Doctors, Casualty and The Tracey Ullman Show. After leaving Coronation Street earlier this year, having spent a year on the famous cobbles during which time he befriended Kylie Platt and wooed Audrey Roberts, he has most recently been touring in Driving Miss Daisy alongside Dame Siân Phillips.
Judy Foster said: “We’re thrilled that Derek is returning to the city to join our Sleeping Beauty cast. He is well-known by so many of us who grew up watching him on TV and we’re sure a whole new generation of children will love him in his role as butler ‘Chortwood’. It will be interesting to see how many parents, who saw him here as youngsters 12 years ago in Peter Pan, will now be bringing their own children to see him in Sleeping Beauty.”
We can’t wait for the fun to begin! (Oh no we can’t).
Tickets for Sleeping Beauty cost from £7 – £24.50 from the box office on 01603 630000 or online at www.theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk
Wednesday 13th December 2017 to Sunday 14th January 2018.
Tickets £7 – £24.50. Under-threes FREE. Discounts for Friends, Over-60s, Under-18s and Groups.
Signed performance on Saturday 13th January at 2.30pm.
Audio-described performances on Wednesday 3rd January and Saturday 6th January at 2.30pm.
Captioned performance on Sunday 7th January at 1pm.
Relaxed performance on Friday 5th January at 5.30pm which is bookable in person or by phone on 01603 630000.