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’Tis the season for a rip-roaring panto!

From Brian Conley as Buttons in Cinderella to a live musical score in the Queen Theatre’s Aladdin, you can’t beat a loud, proud panto to ring in the joy of Christmas.

The ultimate holidays pick-me-up, pantos are the cornerstone of Christmas and one tradition you should never drop during the festivities. So, dig out your stripy tights and get your ‘Oh, yes it is!’ down to a tea, because these pantos are coming at you hot across Essex this season – and you won’t want to miss them!

Aladdin: Mercury Theatre, Colchester

Aladdin panto Colchester

Journey to distant shores this Christmas and meet Aladdin: a penniless dreamer who yearn to win the heart of rebellious Princess Jasmine. With a wicked sorcerer to boo and Genie of the Lamp to laugh along with, it’s a production with serious feel-good factor and a gorgeous musical score to boot. So, go on – hop aboard the magic carpet and let Aladdin show you his wonderful world! The show runs from 27 November to 16 January; tickets from £15.

Beauty and the Beast: Civic Theatre, Chelmsford

Beauty and the Beast panto Chelmsford

An enchanting gem guaranteed to inject joy into the festivities, Beauty and the Beast is back in Chelmsford this Christmas and running from 26 November until 3 January. Diving straight into spells, a vain Prince transformed into a terrifying Beast and the one true love who can save him – kind, spirited Belle, this is the panto for hopeless romantics who love a happy ending. The bewitching costumes, stunning sets and roof-raising songs are a much-welcome bonus! Tickets from £15 on opening night, £22 for concessions or £25 for single entry; family tickets are also available at £82.

Jack and the Beanstalk: Princes Theatre, Clacton-on-Sea

It’s the ‘giant’ panto you’ve all ‘bean’ waiting for! Skid Row is in Peril. The town’s folk are knee-deep in debt, Fleshcreep is creating havoc and there’s an ugly old giant living in the cloud directly above the town. When his beloved Jill gets kidnapped, Jack Trott finally decides to rise to the challenge… he’s off to rescue her and win the heart of his one true love! Prepare yourself for a slapstick adventure jam-packed with song and dance, colourful costumes, imaginative sets and a whole new level of fee fie fo FUN at this seaside show starring X-Factor winner Ben Haenow as intrepid Jack Trott. Tickets start from £14 and you can catch the magic from 4 December to 1 January. 

Cinderella: Cliffs Pavilion, Southend-on-Sea

Cinderella pantomime Southend

Hitting the Cliffs from 13 December to 2 January, this rags-to-riches favourite is sure to be a sellout. Staring king of panto-comedy Brian Conley as Cinderella’s best mate Buttons, expect a dashing Prince Charming, two (very) ugly sisters and one magical fairy godmother to get the party – sorry, ball – well and truly started. Audience participation, essential. Tickets from £14.

Alice in Wonderland: The Billericay Theatre, Billericay

As the third panto to take place on the big Billericay stage, it’s sure to be a ‘trip’ to remember! Join Alice as she journeys down the rabbit hole and into the crazy world of Wonderland in this fantastical production, which runs from the 10-23 December. Tickets cost £18 per child, £24 per adult.

Beauty and the Beast: Towngate Theatre, Basildon

panto Basildon

Starring Simon Fielding and Sophie Ladds, this hilarious iteration of the Christmas classic is set to bring the house down. Cue a magical ballroom scene, sing-a-long anthems and a critically acclaimed cast that know exactly how to keep the magic alive all season long. The production runs from 24 November to the 3 January; tickets cost from £12.50.

Aladdin: Queen’s Theatre, Hornchurch

Housed in the historic Hornchurch theatre, this magical show runs from 25 November to 2 January and stars some serious musical-stage talent. Brought to you from the team behind Robin Hood, you’ll enjoy original tunes played live by the theatre band, plus star turns from Miiya Alexander (Amelie The Musical), Dominic Gee-Burch (One Man Two Guvnors) and Stacey Ghent (Sweet Charity) – all your Christmas wishes come true! Tickets from £19.15. 

FURTHER AFIELD

Goldilocks and the Three Bears, London Palladium, Sat 7 Dec – Sun 12 Jan

This is like fantasy panto casting. I mean, seriously, does it get better than this? Paul O’Grady, Julian Clary, Nigel Havers, Gary Wilmot and  – well who cares about the rest, I’m sold.  lwtheatres.co.uk

Cinderella, The Hexagon, Sat 7 Dec – Sun 5 Jan

Just over the Berks border in Reading, CBeebies’ Justin Fletcher, aka Mr Tumble, returns to The Hexagon stage (he received raving reviews for Aladdin last year btw) to star in Cinderella.  readingarts.com

Dick Whittington and his Cat, Hackney Empire, Sat 23 Nov – Sun 5 Jan 

The unashamed home of Panto has chosen Dick Whittington and his Cat for this year’s festive offering. Olivier award-winner and panto dame extraordinaire Clive Rowe stars in his 13th panto for the theatre alongside Hamilton’s Tarinn Callender in the leading role. hackneyempire.co.uk

Pinocchio on Ice, Alexandra Palace, Fri 13 – Mon 16 Dec

A panto but with a few triple salchows thrown in for good measure. This show features pro skaters, a mix of modern and traditional music, a performance from a West End star and lashings of festive spirit all performed on Ally Pally’s ice rink. alexandrapalace.com

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