Wellingborough Castle Theatre panto back with Sleeping Beauty - oh, yes it is!
The panto had to be cancelled last year due to Covid restrictions
Panto is back - Oh, no it isn't! Oh, yes it is! - and the cast are excited to get back to treading the boards after spending the last year away from the greasepaint and limelight.
The Castle Theatre Wellingborough's annual professional panto promises a traditional performance with baddies (boo!), heroines (hurray!) and an outrageous dame in their production of Sleeping Beauty.
Due to financial prudence owners Parkwood Theatres have not wanted to risk hiring an established celebrity and instead Martin Cleverley, the Castle Theatre's general manager, has been able to put together a larger cast than usual.
Pre-pandemic the panto had been brought 'in-house' with the staff and cast responsible for collaborating on the spectacular show complete with songs, dances and even a fiery dragon.
Mr Cleverley said: "Ticket sales are already ahead of where we thought we would be and we've had 24 schools booking. We think that's through word of mouth because of the previous experience schools had last time.
"We are not putting a celebrity name into the production because of the financial risk - even if they were in Emmerdale 15 years ago you'll have to pay. We have a quality cast."
The panto will also not feature children and young people from the local area due to the possible risk of Covid transmission, but with money saved the cast will be larger than in previous productions.
Mr Cleverley will be directing Sleeping Beauty with an intensive, punishing ten-day rehearsal schedule, pencilled in for the eight-strong cast as well as a troupe of professional dancers.
The ensemble cast will transport theatre-goers to another castle where, cursed by the jealous Wicked Queen Caraboose (Ria Turner) and her evil sidekick Herman (Stuart Ash) on her 16th birthday, the beautiful Princess Aurora (Alice Ellen Wright) falls into a deep sleep that can only be ended with a kiss from her betrothed, Prince Charming (Mark Lamb).
Charming needs all the help he can get from the good fairies including Fairy Marge (Sarah Hooper) to help him escape the Queen's evil clutches, wake the princess and the king (James Dinsmore) and live happily ever after.
Comedy turns from Dame Nurse Nelly (Adam Borzone) and Jingles (William Frazer) promise to bring the usual hilarity to the panto.
Mr Cleverley has promised that the script won't ignore Covid with a few references being added respectfully.
James Dinsmore, who plays Princess Aurora's father, said: "Sleeping Beauty might have to have a double jab by pricking her finger."
Attending the launch, mayor of Wellingborough Lora Lawman said: "It is absolutely brilliant that the panto is happening. I wholeheartedly welcome it and we are thrilled that the beautiful fairy tale will be brought to Wellingborough."
Playing the dame 'Nurse Nelly' is Adam Borzone, who is thrilled to be in Northamptonshire as he has family and friends in the county.
He will be staying with best friend in Irthlingborough and he is excited to be able to welcome his aunt and uncle - Sandra and Jon Sanderson from Rushden - to see him perform.
Adam said: "I'm looking forward to it. It will be the first time that they have seen me on stage. I think that Northamptonshire is an under-rated place and I'm very excited to be here."
Les Misérables alumni Alice Ellan Wright will play the lead role of Princess Aurora and will be staying in the county during the December run.
She said: "Everyone loves panto. I'm looking forward to it and I'll be spending Christmas in Wellingborough."
Tickets for the panto start at £10 with the production running from Saturday, December 4, with the final date on New Year's Eve.