Magic of panto helping to save theatre in Skegness this Christmas

For generations, pantomimes have been to Christmas what chocolate eggs are to Easter - a delicious treat for all the family full of music and magic.

Eleanor Snowdon from Nickelodeon's Paw Patrol as Snow White
Eleanor Snowdon from Nickelodeon's Paw Patrol as Snow White

Sadly, for many of us it's two years since we've seen the spotlight fall on our favourite fairy tale characters, with the usual screams of boo and "he's behind you!" coming from a live audience of children of all ages.

At a privately owned theatre in Skegness, this year is particularly magical because before the Covid-19 lockdown, the future of the Neverland Theatre in Prince George Street was in doubt.

Not only is the star-studded Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs the first ever pantomime to be staged at Neverland, it also marks a new more promising era for the theatre.

Joe Gash, currently touring Rock of Ages as The Rock Prince.

"We looked at moving venues and even just concentrating on touring but Covid-19 changed all that and made us revaluate," explained theatre owner Gary Starr, whose company survived lockdown with a number of online productions.

"We love Skegness and being here so we spent lockdown rebuilding the place.

"We have new seating, sound system and lighting.

"Some businesses and people came forward to sponsor some of the seats (we still have some left).

Owner Gary Starr is looking forward to welcoming families to the pantomime at the Neverland Theatre in Skegness.

"This has added to the community feel of the place, which is very important to us and what we are about.

"We are ready to relaunch now and we are very excited to be welcome new and former supporters to our pantomime."

Reaching out to all sectors of the community, over 200 pantomime tickets have been donated to local charities and deserving families in Skegness.

Two local businesses in particular help them to achieve this - The Hildreds Shopping Centre and the Skegness Aquarium.

Snow White opens at the Neverland Theatre in Skegness on Wednesday, December 15.

Steve Andrews, manager at the Hildreds has created an incredible sculpted piece from Snow White in the shopping centre for the festive season, which is on display now for families to enjoy.

The Aquarium and Tower Cinema have also helped with marketing and promotion.

"We are looking forward to our opening night with Skegness Mayor Trevor Burnham joining us along with guests from Alive and Kicking, who he has kindly donated 10 tickets to," said Gary.

The show - which opens on Wednesday, December 15, until Friday, December 24 - boasts an amazing cast including Eleanor Snowdon of Paw Patrol fame as the leading lady, and the amazing vocals of the Rock Prince, played by Joe Gash who is currently touring the UK with Rock of Ages.

The Neverland Theatre in Skegness opens with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs on December 15.

There will be a full supporting cast of professional ensemble, not forgetting Snow White's seven friends.

Gary says he is super excited to be bringing panto to his theatre and for more people to discover what is a hidden gem in the town.

"This is the first year we have brought a Christmas pantomime to our own theatre and we are so excited to open the doors and have a full audience clapping and cheering the heroes and booing the baddies," he said.

"Our amazing cast can’t wait to get started. This show is guaranteed to have you laughing for days.

"It’s the perfect show to put you in the Christmas spirit."

There is a lot to look forward to in 2022, too.

The Neverland Theatre in Skegness

"We are hoping to have for or five shows a week during the season," said Gary. "Skegness Playgoers will be running their productions here and we are also talking to some other groups.

"As well as this we are also bringing in new drag shows and comedy nights.

"It's been a tough year for everyone but for theatre it has been devastating.

"We managed to survive somehow and we just need people to buy tickets and come and support us."

Sponsors for the Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs pantomime are The Hildreds Shopping Centre and The Skegness Aquarium’.

The show can be booked online at www.neverlandtheatre.co.uk or call the box office on 01754 879262.

Matinees are 2pm and the curtain rises at 7pm in the evening. Ticket prices are £16 for an adult, £10 for a child.

SLEEPING BEAUTY AT THE EMBASSY CENTRE

Another festive favourite, Sleeping Beauty, opens at the Embassy Theatre in Skegness on tomorrow (Thursday, December 16).

Cast members were all auditioned on Zoom from hundreds of hopefuls.

Director of the production, Cameron Hall, is a Skegness talent born and bred, who has directed our pantomimes before and has not only assisted hugely with this year’s production.

He has also performed himself, all over the world, on the West End stage and has recently opened an award winning dance school in Spain where he now lives.

Brendan Bugg, theatre marketing officer, said: "It's wonderful to be able to welcome our customers back for their annual pantomime fix as the last couple of years have proven to be a real challenge.

Our 2021 pantomime Sleeping Beauty will provide everyone with a huge dollop of festive cheer delivered by the hugely talented cast and creative team here at the Embassy Theatre in Skegness.

"We’re also extremely grateful to our partners for their support – The Twins FX, Stagecoach and Web Signs."

The panto runs until December 28. For show times and to book, visit https://embassytheatre.co.uk/shows/sleeping-beauty/

The new seating at the Neverland Theatre in Skegness has been sponsored by local people and businesses.
Neverland Theatre in Skegness.
Sleeping Beauty opens at the Embassy Theatre in Skegness on Thursday, December 16.
Oh yes it is - panto time at the Embassy Centre, Skegness.