Sleeping Beauty panto hailed a success

Stephanie Hockley as Princess Talia and Jonny Fines as Prince Ronnie in Mercury panto Sleeping Beauty

Stephanie Hockley as Princess Talia and Jonny Fines as Prince Ronnie in Mercury panto Sleeping Beauty

First published in News

THE curtain has gone down on this year’s Mercury pantomime and the Colchester theatre is hailing it an overwhelming success.

More than 24,500 people went to see the show, which this year was a futuristic take on the Sleeping Beauty story.

The pantomime started its run at the start of December and included 58 performances. Along the way theatre-goers munched their way through 5,206 ice creams while waving 2,760 flashing swords and wands and flicking through 1,582 programmes.

In keeping with their policy to open the theatre to a wider audience, the Mercury held its first relaxed performance, especially for people who have an autistic spectrum condition.

Clare Moles, the deputy family support officer from Autism Anglia, who attended the performance, said: “The Mercury Theatre put a lot of thought into the performance.

“We were impressed with the quality of the visual story supplied before the performance to help people feel more relaxed about attending and to let them knowwhat would happen.

“Having areas to go to withdraw from the auditorium if necessary and having the performance streamed live to the bar area were thoughtful touches.

“It was also appreciated that people with autism were able to experience this kind of performance, many for the first time.”

While long-standing Mercury associate artist Tony Casement took on the directing duties, there were plenty of new faces in the cast. They included Stephanie Hockley, who was in her first pantomime after recently graduating from the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts played heroine Princess Talia, and Jonny Fines, who played charming Prince Ronnie.

More familiar faces were Kate Copeland, a regular in the Mercury Company from 2006 to 2010, and Neil Bromley, who was in Arsenic and Old Lace in 2012.

Mr Casement said: “We had a great cast, a fantastic band, a beautiful set and we were able to offer the people of Colchester a traditional experience with a modern twist.

“One of the most successful innovations this year has been the inclusion of nine young performers from our Young Company in the show.

“They were brilliant to work with and we’re really pleased that we could help support the next generation of theatre makers to develop their skills and experience.”

Comments (2)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

10:27pm Thu 16 Jan 14

Reginald47 says...

I've only met one person who liked it, but then perhaps I move in too traditional circles.
I've only met one person who liked it, but then perhaps I move in too traditional circles. Reginald47
  • Score: 3

3:11am Fri 17 Jan 14

Boris says...

Reggie is right. it's nice to know the director and cast enjoyed themselves, and the special performance for autistic people was a good idea. And the dancing was very impressive.
But a theatre relies on its annual pantomime to make the money for the year. Many of us went this year, expecting something along traditional lines. But what did we get?
An evil fairy godmother who was not evil at all, merely an "Old Woman".
A queen who is truly hateful.
A yeti-like monster prancing innocuously during a woodland scene, not threatening anyone, thus giving no chance to shout out "Look behind you".
Hardly any chance to shout out "Oh yes he did" or similar.
A simple nonsense song, but no competition between the left and right sides of the auditorium.
And plenty more departures from pantomime tradition.
The new Mercury management have taken a big risk. How many families are going to go back next year? If next winter's pantomime plays to half-empty houses, that could spell the end of the Mercury as a theatre which puts on challenging plays (such as the excellent "Good Person of Sichuan" a few months ago). It could degenerate into a mere receiving theatre, one that merely receives successful mainstream plays presented by other theatre companies, but which produces little or nothing of its own.
Reggie is right. it's nice to know the director and cast enjoyed themselves, and the special performance for autistic people was a good idea. And the dancing was very impressive. But a theatre relies on its annual pantomime to make the money for the year. Many of us went this year, expecting something along traditional lines. But what did we get? An evil fairy godmother who was not evil at all, merely an "Old Woman". A queen who is truly hateful. A yeti-like monster prancing innocuously during a woodland scene, not threatening anyone, thus giving no chance to shout out "Look behind you". Hardly any chance to shout out "Oh yes he did" or similar. A simple nonsense song, but no competition between the left and right sides of the auditorium. And plenty more departures from pantomime tradition. The new Mercury management have taken a big risk. How many families are going to go back next year? If next winter's pantomime plays to half-empty houses, that could spell the end of the Mercury as a theatre which puts on challenging plays (such as the excellent "Good Person of Sichuan" a few months ago). It could degenerate into a mere receiving theatre, one that merely receives successful mainstream plays presented by other theatre companies, but which produces little or nothing of its own. Boris
  • Score: 2

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree