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Page last updated at 08:17 GMT, Monday, 13 December 2010
Record set for Northamptonshire Christmas shows

Eight professional Christmas shows are being performed at venues around Northamptonshire this year.

There are three shows in Northampton, three in Kettering, one in Corby and another in Wellingborough.

The competition has been strengthened with a new theatre opening in Corby and the first professional pantomime being staged in Kettering.

Christmas shows are believed to be some of the most profitable productions for theatre companies.

CORBY

hansel & Gretel

Hansel & Gretel

The Core at Corby Cube opened in November 2010 and Hansel & Gretel is the first professional production to open at the venue.

The director, Gary Sefton, said it was a family show, rather than a pantomime, "but it has elements of pantomime in it."

That includes booing and hissing the baddie, communal singing and corny jokes.

"Within that, it's funny, hopefully moving and hopefully scary," he added.

Sam Robinson, who plays Gretel, was excited about being the first professional production at the Core: "We get to put the scratches on the floor."

She described the new theatre as "beautiful".

Hansel & Gretel is at The Core until 26 December 2010.

KETTERING

David Van Day in Aladdin

Aladdin

Although Kettering's Lighthouse Theatre, part of Kettering Conference Centre, has been open for two years, this is the first professional pantomime to be staged there.

Aladdin stars Big Brother's Nikki Grahame, UK's 2010 Eurovision entrant Josh Dubovie and X-Factor's Daniel Fox.

"My public persona is a bit offish," confided the former Dollar singer David Van Day, who plays the evil Abanazar. "I'm perfect for this part."

He quickly added: "But I'm not like it really."

The former Emmerdale and Doctor Who actor Frazer Hines plays Wishy-Washy. He is a veteran of pantomime, this being his 28th year: "I love seeing the little kids' faces, and panto audiences come ready to laugh," he said.

Aladdin is at the Lighthouse Theatre until 26 December 2010.

Jack & The Beanstalk

Kettering's Wicksteed Park is staging two Christmas shows. Jack and the Beanstalk is a pantomime staged alongside the Robert Brothers' Circus and runs until 9 January 2011.

The Way We Were

The Way We Were Christmas Special is a festive version of Wicksteed's regular nostalgic entertainment.

The director of the show, David Kettle, said it was not a pantomime nor a traditional Christmas musical show.

"It tells the story of everybody's favourite memories of Christmas," he said.

He said it was most likely to appeal to older people, rather than children: "People who organise Christmas, rather than being a little child who enjoys it."

The Way We Were Christmas Special runs at Wicksteed Park until 19 December 2010.

NORTHAMPTON

The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe at the Royal & Derngate

The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe

Northampton's Royal & Derngate traditionally offer a choice of Christmas shows and this year is no different.

In the Royal Theatre, a dramatisation of the popular C.S. Lewis story The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe is being performed.

The director Dani Parr believes it is a tale for all ages. Her four-year-old daughter enjoyed the play and older children would like it too: "With all the battles and the excitement it's suitable for 11, 12 or 13-year-olds. And grown-ups love the story as well."

Georgina White, who plays the the Witch, said there was nothing better than playing the baddie: "It's not necessarily about looking scary but it's about being very cold. I'm making her a bit of a Warrior Queen as well."

The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe is at the Royal & Derngate until the 9 January 2011.

Jack & The Beanstalk

Not far from Narnia you can find some magic beans. Jack and the Beanstalk is the pantomime playing at the Derngate theatre.

Ray Quinn, famous for X-Factor and Dancing on Ice, is the star turn.

Jack and the Beanstalk is at the Royal & Derngate until 9 January 2011.

Aladdin

Competing with the Royal & Derngate's two Christmas shows is the Deco Theatre which is showing Aladdin.

It stars Chesney Hawkes as Aladdin and Hollyoaks' actress Melissa Walton as the princess.

Aladdin at the Deco ends its run on 24 December 2010.

WELLINGBOROUGH

Robin Hood at The Castle, Wellingborough

Robin Hood

The Castle, Wellingborough, has a long tradition of producing family shows for Christmas. This year's offering is Robin Hood.

The director James Bonas described it as "all-singing, all-dancing."

He added that it was "funny, never patronising and it moves incredibly fast."

Jo Parsons, who plays Robin, said it was a dream role: "I used to be a sucker for Robin Hood Prince of Thieves with Kevin Costner. I've always thought that would be a great role to play."

Robin Hood is at The Castle until 30 December 2010.




SEE ALSO
'Heart of community' aim for Core
29 Nov 10 |  Arts & Culture
Corby theatre is to be 'the Core'
13 Sep 10 |  Arts & Culture

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