After two highly-successful pantos at the Ropetackle in Shoreham, LP Creatives are back this Easter with something along similar lines.
Writer and performer Tom Beard hesitates to call Hansel & Gretel (Saturday, April 12, 10.30am and 1.15pm) a panto. His belief is that pantos are what happen at Christmas.
“But there is a growing trend towards Easter pantomimes, and this has certainly got lots of pantomimesque elements.”
The show, which will be directed by Lorna Price from a script by Tom, will be an extremely-light, feel-good, family fun-filled feast, Tom promises, headed by Coronation Street and Benidorm star Margi Clarke as the wicked stepmother/witch with CBBC’s The Slammer star JezO as Hansel.
The show takes a larger-than-life journey into the world of the Brothers Grimm, Tom explains.
“Hansel and Gretel are the brother/sister team from the classic tale of magic and mystery. When an unexpected visitor interrupts the pair’s meagre yet happy woodland existence, Hansel and Gretel find themselves in need of a favour from a forest inhabitant or two to pull their world back from the brink of disaster.”
Based on the ever-popular German story, first recorded and published by the Brothers Grimm in 1812, Hansel and Gretel brings together magic, sets, costumes and scripts synonymous with an LP production, Tom promises.
The company are always strong on audience participation, and you can expect plenty of that when they return to Shoreham: “We try to keep everything modern and fresh. I think you can say that it is going to be quite manic!
“This show will be driven by an extremely-fun and light-hearted nature, as well as being a spectacular extravaganza for the senses! It is very important for children to receive exposure to the arts. This is why it is so important for us to produce a big family show each year. Hansel & Gretel will be a chance for all generations to spend time together at the theatre. Not only does this time help strengthen the family bond; it helps to nurture a love of live theatre in the youngest of audience members.
“Hansel and Gretel aren’t greedy; they just want a better life for themselves and their father. Their lives are turned upside down when their father brings home an unwelcome visitor who thanks to a handful of breadcrumbs, eventually leads to a woodland adventure with a large cottage built of gingerbread and cakes, with window panes of clear sugar.
“The occupant of the cottage promises soft beds and delicious food…but it would appear that she has other plans!”
As Tom says, the Grimm original offers all sorts of ghastly things, not least a fair dollop of torture – elements the production will steer well clear of, in favour of keeping everything light and cheerful.
“We certainly don’t want to petrify the four-year-olds.”
The company got to know Margi, and Tom reckons she will be just perfect for the role, hitting just the right tone to keep it all great fun: “She has got great comedy timing!”
Tom was delighted with the company’s panto return to the venue late last year: “It went absolutely brilliantly. We sold out completely. That was our second year there. The first year was pretty good, and then I suppose more people came because they understood better what we were trying to do, and it just sold out entirely.
“We are certainly looking at the option of coming back there this Christmas. It is something that we need to finalise with the Ropetackle.”
Tickets on 01273 464440 or www.ropetacklecentre.co.uk.