The curtain has gone up on a festive pantomime that is set to be Shropshire’s most successful of all time.
Sleeping Beauty will feature at Theatre Severn, in Shrewsbury, until January 12 and feature several performers who have previously lined up at the venue.
Peter Nicholson, Theatre Severn’s boss, said more than 35,000 people were expected to attend performances during coming weeks.
He said: “We’re looking to break box office records with this year’s panto. Last year, we enjoyed a record-breaking run but this year we’re on course to do even better.
“We’re in the position now where we sell almost all of the seats. The only way to attract more people would be to extend the run.
“We’re thrilled that so many people enjoy the Theatre Severn production. We don’t go down the celebrity route, like most theatres – and I hope our cast won’t mind me saying that. Instead, we look to get exceptional performers, many of whom have a West End pedigree, or are big names locally.
“The audience appreciates that approach because it means the show is of the highest quality. There’s a great rapport between the cast and the crew. We’re thrilled that it’s panto time and we hope our audiences enjoy the show.”
Craig Reeves, marketing manager at Theatre Severn, said the Shrewsbury pantomime was fast becoming a tradition for local families.
He said: “People do it each year. We get lots and lots of people who book the same seats on the same dates. They love the panto so much that they bring along more and more members of their family each year.
“They’ll add an uncle or an aunt, a brother or a sister, a cousin or a friend. The parties get bigger and bigger each year. But that’s hardly surprising. We put on an amazingly good panto, it’s a high quality production.”
This year’s production has been written by Paul Hendy and will be produced by Brad Fitt, who plays the Dame.
Brad said: “I’ve been here for the last couple of years and the audiences in Shrewsbury are exceptional. They love live entertainment and really get into what we’re doing.
“The sets for this year’s pantomime are bigger and better than ever. We’ve got a fire-breathing dragon that actually reaches down into the audience. There’s also a bathroom scene, which gets very, very messy and very, very wet.
“A number of the cast have been in previous pantomimes so we know how to get the best out of each other. Eric Smith, for instance, is a real favourite at Theatre Severn. People love what he does.
“When Eric and I are on stage, I can catch a little glimmer in his eye and I know he’s going for the big laugh. It works really well.”
This year’s production of Sleeping Beauty will feature comedian Adam Moss, alongside Brad Fitt and Eric Smith.
There will be lots of audience participation, lavish sets and stunning special effects.
Tickets are available for shows throughout the run, though the pantomime is expected to reach 90 per cent capacity so people are urged to book tickets soon.
Further details are available from www.theatresevern.co.uk or by telephoning (01743) 281281.