COLCHESTER’S panto dame caused chaos in a takeover of a solicitor’s reception desk (oh yes they did!).

Dame Maris Piper and on-stage companion Spud, portrayed by Antony Stuart-Hicks and Dale Superville, made a surprise visit to Ellisons’ head office, in Head Street, Colchester.

The duo toured the office, took over reception, and generally caused mischief as they met and chatted with staff.

The visit marked the start of an exciting new partnership as the law firm became the headline sponsor of the Mercury Theatre’s 2023 pantomime Sleeping Beauty.

Gazette: Receptionist - Spud had a go at manning receptionReceptionist - Spud had a go at manning reception (Image: Nathan Garwood)

Guy Longhurst, who is a managing partner at Ellisons, said: “Like Ellisons, the Mercury is part of Colchester’s history, and we are very lucky to have such a leading arts venue on our doorstep.

“We are committed to supporting local organisations who benefit our community and the lives of residents, so we are very excited to sponsor the delivery of such a fabulous family pantomime as well as working alongside the Mercury in other ways.”

More than 15,000 tickets have already been sold for this year’s panto.

The theatre’s executive director Steve Mannix said he was “thrilled to have Ellisons on board”.

Information about tickets can be found at