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Our guide to Cambridgeshire's panto season 2021

The season of sequin-showered heroines, outlandish dames, dastardly baddies and dad-jokes-a-go-go is with us! Here’s five pantos sure to leave you feeling childishly giddy.

Panto: Aladdin

Where: Cambridge Arts Theatre

Carl Au will appear in Aladdin at the Cambridge Arts Theatre (52871148)
Carl Au will appear in Aladdin at the Cambridge Arts Theatre (52871148)

What’s the story? Traditional family panto at its best, with the city’s favourite dame Matt Crosby playing Widow Twankey, back for his 16th season at the Cambridge Arts Theatre. Matt’s pantomime roles at the Arts Theatre include Dame Trott in 2020’s Dame Trott’s Panto Palaver and an Ugly Sister opposite Wayne Sleep in 2019’s Cinderella.

The story starts with Aladdin longing for riches, good fortune and his one true love while stuck working in Widow Twankey’s launderette. But when the dastardly Abanazar lures him into the depths of a deep dark cave, Aladdin’s life is turned upside down. With the genie by his side and the magic lamp in his pocket, Aladdin finds himself on the adventure of a lifetime. But Abanazar has other plans… can Aladdin defeat him and win the hand of the Princess, or will he be back in the launderette before you can say “open sesame”?

Matt will be joined by television, film and West End actor Rolan Bell as the dastardly villain Abanazar. Previously appearing in Cambridge Arts Theatre pantomimes between 2011-2013, Bell’s subsequent roles include Theo Kelly in EastEnders and Sergeant King (Kingy) in BBC One’s hit TV Drama Our Girl, opposite Michelle Keegan.

Megan-Hollie Robertson, Aladdin, Cambridge Arts Theatre. (52871150)
Megan-Hollie Robertson, Aladdin, Cambridge Arts Theatre. (52871150)

Carl Au stars in the title role of Aladdin. Best known for his role as Barry Barry in Waterloo Road, Au’s other credits include Cilla the Musical (UK tour). Megan-Hollie Robertson will be breaking hearts as Princess Poppy. Robertson’s theatre credits include performances in in the UK tours of Annie and South Pacific.

In 2020, Cambridge Arts Theatre defied all odds with Dame Trott’s Panto Palaver, a socially-distanced panto adventure, welcoming thousands of Cambridgeshire families before the COVID-19 pandemic forced its closure.

This year’s pantomime is back to a full-scale production, brimming with singalong songs, sparkling costumes and side-splitting jokes.

When: December 2-January 9

Tickets: cambridgeartstheatre.com

Panto: Horrible Christmas

Where: IWM Duxford

What’s the story? Join the Horrible Histories team and Birmingham Stage Company on a hair-raising adventure as one boy battles historic villains to save Christmas, with a little help from Charles Dickens, Oliver Cromwell, King Henry VIII, a bunch of medieval monks and Saint Nicholas. Top your car with tinsel, pack the panettone and park up for a rip-roaring festive romp.

Horrible Christmas will be at Duxford on December 12 (42510896)
Horrible Christmas will be at Duxford on December 12 (42510896)

When: Saturday, December 18, 2pm and 5pm showings

Tickets: carparkparty.com

Panto: Sleeping Beauty

Where: The Maltings, Ely

What’s the story? Be spell-bound as KD Theatre Productions unveils a dreamy production of Sleeping Beauty with Ellie Bovingdon in the title role. Boo your heart out as evil Carabosse causes Princess Aurora to prick her finger on a spinning wheel, then delight as Prince Harry bids to wake her from the enchanted slumber.

Ely’s “favourite funny man”, Terry Gauci, will return for his eighth Ely pantomime as Nurse O’Dear.

Ellie Bovingdon is Princess Aurora in Sleeping Beauty at The Maltings Ely (51912771)
Ellie Bovingdon is Princess Aurora in Sleeping Beauty at The Maltings Ely (51912771)

The panto will feature a live band, spectacular sets, stunning costumes and a cast of seasoned professionals.

When: December 10-31

Tickets: themaltingsely.org.uk

Panto: The Snow Queen

Where: Cambridge Junction

What’s the story? A magical show, filled with live music and frosty fun as we follow Gerda on her amazing quest to save best friend Kaj from the Snow Queen in the frozen north. Look out for a broken mirror, the wild woods, some very helpful crows and a bicycling reindeer. Brrr-illiant!

The Snow Queen. Pic by Claire Haigh (52871160)
The Snow Queen. Pic by Claire Haigh (52871160)

Last year, New International Encounter made an abridged online version of The Snow Queen filmed in beautiful Cambridgeshire woodlands. This year they are returning to the much-loved story to make a new, extended adaptation with six performers and plenty of live music.

Matt Burman, Artistic Director at Cambridge Junction, said: “We’re so happy to be able to share with you in person at last our fantastic new adaptation of The Snow Queen. Last Christmas we made the best of difficult times to co-produce a beautiful film that introduced audiences to a magical world imagined by our excellent friends New International Encounter. This Christmas, we will complete that tale and bring it to life before your very eyes! The Snow Queen promises to be the ideal show to share with our friends and families… something really special and perfectly seasonal, full of adventurous children, reindeer, crows and bandits, magic, music, laughter, and epic storytelling.”

When: December 8-January 3

Tickets: junction.co.uk

Panto: Rapunzel

Where: ADC Theatre Cambridge

Rapunzel at ADC Theatre (51912775)
Rapunzel at ADC Theatre (51912775)

What’s the story? Panto returns with a ‘queer and colourful bang’ in this production by Cambridge University Amateur Dramatic Club and Cambridge Footlights’ which celebrates individuality and self-love. Prince Victor and Princess Stella live in a land where art is banned, and Dames are banished. Setting off to save Rapunzel from her dragon-guarded tower, they encounter adventure, hilarity and friendship along the way.

When: November 24-December 4

Tickets: adctheatre.com

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