Things to do

Dorset pantomimes are not just for Christmas

One could argue that the cinema has far overtaken the desire for a night at the theatre, especially when it comes to younger audiences, but theatres around Dorset have a wonderful range of performances which are suitable for all the family, so why not see what’s coming up?

 

With all the distraction of the Christmas festivities, it would be easy to forget one of the most important traditions of all; to book tickets to go and see a pantomime! Now, some people like to honour this tradition in the lead up to Christmas, but in my experience, the best time to go is in January, when all the Christmas excitement is over, leaving the family something to look forward to. There will of course be the usual panto line-ups of former 80s pop stars, vacationing soap stars and not forgetting a Widow Twanky or two, but around Dorset and Wiltshire, there are some excellent choices for panto post-Christmas, to shake the January blues.

Breaking tradition, this year myself and my partner decided to go to a panto before Christmas, and choosing to reject the typical celebrity cast shows, we opted to go and see a community-based panto with friends at The Pavilion in Weymouth. The show this year was Sleeping Beauty; a first for all of us, having already exhausted Cinderella, Aladdin, Snow White and Dick Whittington in previous years. 

I have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the whole evening; the acting, the comedy, the script and special effects, far outweighed my expectations for a low budget community show. There was of course the traditional panto dame, who, in a different outfit in every single scene never failed to impress on quality of humour, nor size and extravagance of wardrobe. Lee Redwood was fantastically funny, complete with a couple of jokes for the adults, and plenty of laughs for the children. His occasional wardrobe malfunction and accidental falling-overs simply enhanced the overall sincerity of the evening and made for some proper belly laughs.

The sweet and kind Muddles was there as the Buttons/heartbroken unrequited love character and had both children and adults alike in stitches with his comic timing and occasional stray from script. His cheeky Welsh accent certainly helped enhance his comedic performance, as well as his never missing an opportunity to try and mess up one of his co-performers during key scenes. 

The traditional evil queen was as mean and nasty as ever, with an incredibly powerful singing voice, belting out her solos so that the hairs on the back of your neck would stand up as much at her voice as her terrifying stage presence. 

One of the highlights was undoubtedly the rendition of the 12 Days of Christmas, though not like you’ve ever heard before. It became a competition between Muddles, the dame and her husband, to mess up over their lyrics and had the whole audience in peals of genuine laughter. 

One could argue that the cinema has far overtaken the desire for a night at the theatre, especially when it comes to younger audiences, but theatres around Dorset have a wonderful range of performances which are suitable for all the family, so why not see what’s coming up?

I have found that in some of the smaller towns around Dorset, namely Shaftesbury, Swanage and Marnhull, there is often incredible talent that is completely overlooked due to lack of marketing or size of venue and location. Throughout the summer, there are often live outdoor performances, which offer a brilliant atmosphere that you won’t find anywhere else, so, if you’re on holiday in Dorset this year, treat yourself to something really special and check out one, if not all of my top five theatres: Shaftesbury Arts Centre, Bridport Electric Palace, The Mowlem Theatre in Swanage, Marine Theatre in Lyme Regis, and Poole Lighthouse.

Marine Theatre Dorset

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