If, like us, last year’s Covid-caused pantomime 'no show' left you feeling horribly bereft and sadly lacking in festive cheer, you’ll be delighted to know that it’s very much a case of 'business as usual' this Christmas. Slapstick comedy, adult humour, flying pies, gaudy gear, garish scenery and fervent cries of 'he's behind you!' will all be in plentiful supply at theatres across the region during the course of the next few weeks. 
So why not check out what’s happening where in the following few pages and then bag yourself a ticket or two to Pantoland...

 

ALADDIN
Blue Orange Theatre, Birmingham, until Sat 11 December; Royal Spa Centre, Leamington Spa, Sat 4 December - Sun 2 January; The Place, Telford, Wed 8 December - Sun 2 January; Prince Of Wales Centre, Cannock, Sat 18 - Tues 28 December

A perfect story for an evening of family entertainment finds street youth Aladdin trying against all odds to win the hand of the beautiful princess - and being helped in his endeavours by the mystical genie of the lamp... 

Coronation Street’s Tom Roberts, Let It Shine winner Sario Solomon and X-Factor finalist Sam Lavery star in The Place’s production (pictured below), while former EastEnder Mark Homer gets nasty as Abanazar at Cannock’s Prince of Wales Centre. But whichever version of the story you catch this Christmas, all the usual pantomime elements - including fabulous Dames, flying pies (and in Aladdin’s case, carpets!) 
and full-blooded calls of ‘he’s behind you’ - are sure to be in plentiful supply.


BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, until Sat 8 January; Swan Theatre, Worcester, Fri 3 December -  Sun 2 January

When a young woman is captured by a hideous beast, she finds herself facing a life of isolation in his mysterious palace. 
The Beast, too, is trapped - seemingly forever - inside the grotesquery of his physical appearance, the consequence of a spell cast upon him by an evil witch. 
Only Beauty’s ability to look beyond his ugliness and see the person within can save him...
That’s pretty much the story outline of this ever-popular fairytale, which at both of the above-listed venues is being given the pantomime treatment. As usual, the Belgrade’s version stars Iain Lauchlan  - who’s also written the show. And also as usual, he’s joined for the occasion by his ‘calamitous’ sidekick, Craig Hollingsworth (pictured below).


CINDERELLA
Wolverhampton Grand Theatre, Sat 4 December - Sun 9 January; Sutton Coldfield Town Hall, Tues 7 - Fri 24 December; Regent Theatre, Stoke-on-Trent, Fri 10 December - Sun 2 January; The Core, Solihull, Fri 10 December - Mon 3 January  

With its comical Ugly Sisters, matchmaking fairy godmother, drop-dead-gorgeous Prince Charming, super-cute mice and fits-one-foot-only glass slipper, Cinderella can justifiably lay claim to being the most popular of all pantomimes. And there are plenty of productions of the fabulous fairytale to enjoy here in the Midlands this Christmas. 
The Wolverhampton Grand’s panto features AJ & Curtis Pritchard, CBeebies’ Evie Pickerill and Five Star’s Denise Pearson (pictured below). 
Meanwhile, up in Stoke, the Regent Theatre’s version sees Jonathan Wilkes and Christian Patterson making a welcome return to Potteries Pantoland.


DICK WHITTINGTON
Albany Theatre, Coventry, Thurs 30 December - Sat 8 January
The story of a man who heads for London in search of fame and fortune is one of the most popular of all pantomimes, not least because of the top adventures in which the happy-go-lucky Dick finds himself involved. With Sarah the Cook and King Rat both putting in an appearance, and heady romance with the delightful Alice also on the cards for our ambitious young hero, Dick Whittington is a show that promises to be packed to its festive rafters with action, comedy and fun.


GOLDILOCKS AND THE THREE BEARS
Birmingham Hippodrome, Sat 18 December - Sun 30 January
Jason Donovan makes his pantomime debut in this no-expense-spared production of Goldilocks And The Three Bears.
Jason plays the part of the Evil Ringmaster and is joined in the cast by Hippodrome panto favourite Matt Slack and ‘lazy cow’ Doreen Tipton. 
Commenting on the production, Michael Harrison, chief executive of Crossroads Pantomimes, which is producing the show, said: “Audiences are going to truly love Goldilocks, the first circus-themed panto at the Hippodrome for 24 years. The show will incorporate the very best of the production I created for the sell-out London Palladium pantomime in 2019, alongside lots of new material created especially for our Birmingham cast and audience.” 


JACK AND THE BEANSTALK
Palace Theatre, Redditch, Mon 6 December - Sun 2 January
Mark Read of boyband A1 and Andrea Valls from CBeebies’ Waffle The Wonder Dog star in this latest version of one of Pantoland’s favourite fairytales.
Jack and his mum are hard-up and have no choice but to take their cow to market to raise some much-needed cash. However, Jack being Jack, he decides to trade her in (the cow, that is, not his mum) for a handful of magic beans, which then grow into a real ogre of a beanstalk. And speaking of ogres...


KING ARTHUR THE PANTO
The Roses, Tewkesbury, until Fri 31 December
The Roses Theatre really is pulling out all the stops with its Christmas show this year, promising a production that’s replete with princesses, heroes, villains, dragons, wizards, magic, music, brave knights, foolish jesters, stones and, er, scones! 
Set in Medieval Tewkesbury and recounting the story of a humble baker boy who’s destined for great things, King Arthur: The Panto has been co-written - along with Nick Wilkes - by BAFTA-winning Birds Of A Feather writer Maurice Gran.


PETER PAN
Lichfield Garrick, until Sun 2 January; Theatre Severn, Shrewsbury, Wed 1 December - Mon 3 January
Fly away to Neverland with the boy who doesn't grow up, meet a real fairy, marvellous mermaids, wonderful Wendy and the down-on-their-luck lost boys. Oh, and beware the ever-so-wicked Captain Hook and a very hungry crocodile who goes tick-tock (he swallowed a clock!). 
The Garrick’s festive-season version of the JM Barrie classic stars panto favourite Sam Rabone, who’s this year taking on the role of Mrs Smee. Sam has also directed the show. Meanwhile, in Shrewsbury, another panto legend, the indomitable Brad Fitt, will once again be getting all Damed-up in the company of his regular panto companion, Eric Smith (pictured below).


SNOW WHITE
Walsall Arena, Fri 10 - Sun 19 December; Stafford Gatehouse Theatre, Fri 10 - Fri 31 December 
Everybody knows the story - the nasty old queen’s less than keen on her younger and more beautiful stepdaughter, who takes refuge from her royal evilness by holing up in the deep, dark forest with a household of vertically challenged miners... 
The fact that Snow White is a 24-carat classic of a fairytale means that a pantomime version is always a surefire winner. Expect all the usual elements, including rouged-up dames in colourful costumes, plenty of thigh-slapping and slapstick comedy, singalongs aplenty to enjoy, and even a few naughty jokes to make sure the grown-ups in the audience don't feel too left out of things.
Maureen Nolan, West End star Keith Jack and CBeebies favourite Rebecca Keatley star in the Gatehouse version of the show (pictured below).


TINDER-ELLA
Blue Orange Theatre, Birmingham, Wed 1 - Sat 11 December
It’s adult panto time at the Blue Orange Theatre, courtesy of a lighthearted show that presents the timeless tale of Cinderella ‘like you’ve never seen it before!’. 
Blue Orange is keen to point out that the production will ‘almost certainly contain adult jokes, innuendo, silliness, strong language and slutty behaviour’. So if you’re of a delicate disposition, it might be best to give the show a miss and head along to the venue’s family pantomime version of Aladdin instead!