Family shows in Devon this Christmas
PUBLISHED: 11:53 19 December 2016 | UPDATED: 11:53 19 December 2016
SU CARROLL waves her magic wand to reveal the best family shows in Devon this Christmas. Oh yes she does...
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Panto supremos Qdos Entertainment are staging Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at Plymouth’s Theatre Royal starring Duncan James from pop group Blue as the Prince (hurrah!) and Birds of a Feather’s Lesley Joseph as The Wicked Queen (boo!).
Although this is only his third panto (after Jack and the Beanstalk and Aladdin), Duncan is no stranger to the stage, cutting his teeth with the Sidmouth Amateur Dramatic Society and Sidmouth Youth Theatre. When still a teenager he joined the rep company run by Charles Vance, who produced an annual summer season of drama at the town’s Manor Pavilion.
“It was basically work experience,” laughs Duncan. “I did things like playing the body in the cupboard and graduated to having a few lines. I loved it. It was great hanging out with the proper actors. We did a production of Abigail’s Party and I thought it was the best thing ever.”
Although his time in Blue took Duncan all around the world, he hasn’t performed at the Theatre Royal before and he’s looking forward to it.
“I get to spend four weeks in Devon and I have a beautiful apartment on The Hoe. I love panto. It’s great for the kids and great as a performer. It’s really good fun. The Qdos pantos are such great shows and they throw a lot of money into them. There are high production values and you’re seeing something really special. They are really more like West End shows.
“For a lot of children panto is their first experience of the theatre so you want it to be really well written with great songs.”
It’s been a tough year for Duncan with two major back operations. At one point doctors were concerned he might never walk again.
“I’m not quite out of the woods,” he admits. “I have to be really careful. The last two pantos I’ve been running around and in really good shape. I can’t even go to gym class at the moment.
“Luckily I’m the Prince in this, so I can be a little bit more regal with a bit more standing around.” Maybe the girls can dance around you, I suggest. “Exactly!,” he laughs.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is at The Theatre Royal Plymouth 18 December-14 January. Book online at theatreroyal.com or call 01752 267222.
The theatre’s Executive Director, Paul Jepson, has chosen J M Barrie’s charming Peter Pan for his first Christmas show at the Northcott when members of Exeter’s Cygnet Theatre will join the company.
Join Wendy, John and Michael as they soar into the night sky with Peter to a magical land of mermaids and fairy dust, where children can fly and all sorts of exciting adventures happen every day. All the elements are there in this new adaptation, which has been designed by Ellan Parry – Tinker Bell, the Lost Boys, fairy dust, crocodiles and of course the villainous Captain Hook. There will be death-defying feats of flying and a generous sprinkling of fairy dust.
Exeter’s premiere panto dame Steve Bennett returns to the Northcott after an absence of six years to play Tinker Bell.
Peter Pan runs from 2 December-1 January. Exeternorthcott.co.uk/01392 726363.
According to Arthur
Barnfield Theatre, Exeter
PaddleBoat Theatre Company return to the Barnfield Theatre this Christmas with their nationally acclaimed, heart-warming, family show According to Arthur…
As the winter snows begin to fall, an old man called Arthur lives all alone in his attic. He never ventures into the outside world; instead he spends all of his time with his only friend - the moon. But now, Arthur needs your help! On Christmas night, the clouds cover the sky and the moon is nowhere to be seen. Without his friend, Arthur’s life suddenly feels empty, and he feels more alone than ever before.
According to Arthur… is at the Barnfield from 13-23 December. Book online at barnfieldtheatre.org.uk or call 01392 271808.
Princess Theatre, Torquay
The Christmas panto at this delightful, friendly theatre by the sea is always magical and this year is no exception, with real Shetland ponies to pull Cinderella’s glass coach. The cast includes singer Anita Harris and Last of the Summer Wine’s Tom Owen as Baroness and Baron Hard Up, Devon singer and X Factor finalist Luke Friend as the Prince and comedian and impersonator Aiden J Harvey as Buttons. The Ugly Sisters are Wesley Sebastian and Paul Lawrence-Thomas. The theatre is to be applauded for putting on three special performances – relaxed, audio signed and audio described. Check the website for details.
Cinderella is at the Princess Theatre, Torquay, 9 December-1 January. Box office 0844 871 3023 (call charges apply) or go to atgtickets.com/torquay.
The Jungle Book
Barbican Theatre, Plymouth
After the sell-out successes of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and Robin Hood & His Merry Men, Barbican Theatre and Le Navet Bete are joining forces again for the ultimate family Christmas treat – Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book.
Join Mowgli, Bagheera, Baloo, Shere Khan for a retelling of the classic tale of true friendship with the inevitable Le Navet Bete twist.
There will be 46 performances at The Barbican Theatre 13 December-15 January. Book online at barbicantheatre.co.uk or call 01752 267131.
Queen’s Theatre, Barnstaple
Ian Hallard and Matthew Baldwin, who proved to be hugely popular as Ugly Sisters Flatula and Verruca in Cinderella last year, return this Christmas for Aladdin.
This year Ian is casting off his villainous persona to play pantoland’s most famous laundress, Widow Twankey while Matthew will again be displaying his sinister side as the devious and power hungry magician Abanazar.
Aladdin runs from 10 December-2 January 2017. Book online at northdevontheatres.org.uk or call 01271 324242.
Ernie and the Sea of Ice
Following the rip-roaring success of The King With Donkey’s Ears, Quirk Theatre and Exeter Phoenix present their 14th Christmas show. Inspired by the 100th anniversary of Ernest Shackleton’s famous expedition, we are in the company of Ernie and the brave crew of the good ship Endeavour. They are on an adventure across the ice when crack! And the ship gets stuck. Great fun with live music and penguins.
Ernie and the Sea of Ice is at Exeter Phoenix 18 December-3 January. Go to exeterphoenix.org.uk or call 01392 667080.
Beneath The Blizzard
Bike Shed Theatre, Exeter
More chills and thrills, this time with theatre company and folk band Fine Chisel’s Beneath The Blizzard. Set in a near-future version of Exeter, it’s about the search for Christmas cheer down the darkest of tunnels as a storm rages above.
Expect crafted storytelling and rousing festive folk tunes with soaring harmonies in a show aimed at children over eight and brave adults.
Beneath the Blizzard is at The Bike Shed Theatre 8 December-7 January.