Panto season is upon us: We round-up the best Dorset shows

From Aladdin to Sleeping Beauty, there is plenty going on in Dorset over the next month to get you in the festive mood. Oh, yes there is!

The panto season gets into full swing, with comedians, family entertainers and a sprinkling of TV stars from shows such as the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing all taking to the stage.

The traditional pantomine has never been more popular and this year there is plenty of choice in productions.

Weymouth’s annual panto is popular locally and this year Jack and the Beanstalk will be taking to the stage at the Pavilion from 10 December to 1 January. Lee Redwood returns to Weymouth to take up the role of panto dame and Gwynfryn West stars at Simple Simon.

Jack and the Beanstalk at the Weymouth Pavilion
Jack and the Beanstalk at the Weymouth Pavilion

The enchanting story of Cinderella will be staged at Bournemouth’s BIC from 3 December to 2 January and starring Dani Harmer who is perhaps best known from the children’s hit TV programme Tracy Beaker and as a finalist of the 2013 series of Strictly Come Dancing. Her co-stars include the X Factor 2007 runner-up Rhydian Roberts as Prince Charming and Welsh Gavin and Stacey actress Melanie Walters who will bring a touch of magic as the Fairy Godmother. The production promises stunning scenery and real-life miniature ponies!

Aladdin will be flying into Poole for the Christmas pants season from 6 December to 8 January. Written by former Blue Peter presenter Peter Duncan, who also stars in the show, the role of Aladdin will be played by Max Bowden from TV programme Waterloo Road and Emmerdale actress Sapphire Elia will play the princess.

Following last year’s record-breaking Jack and the Beanstalk, the Tivoli Theatre in Wimborne will be running Sleeping Beauty as this year’s spectacular family pantomime from 16 December –2 January and features a seasoned cast of professional pantomime performers. Not to mention a full supporting cast of young, local dancers and performers.

A more intimate, family pantomime production is Sleeping Beauty that runs at the Barrington Centre in Ferndown on 4 December, with two afternoon performances. 

A late-comer to the party is Snow White at the Regent Centre in Christchurch, which runs from 21 January to 28 January.  This song-and-dance extravaganza is produced by the award-winning Highcliffe Charity Players and is the first time they’ve staged Snow White since 1978.

Snow Play at the Lighthouse in Poole
Snow Play at the Lighthouse in Poole

Aside from traditional pantos, Dorset’s theatres also stage more contemporary seasonal shows. The London production of ‘Snow Play’ by the Lyngo Theatre Company will run at the newly-renovated Sherling Studio at Poole Lighthouse from 6 December to 24 December. Suitable for ages 3+, the interactive show guarantees a white Christmas as children are invited to the stage to make giant snowmen and take part in a snowball fight!

Over in the Lighthouse’s concert hall, Christmas classic ‘The Snowman’ will be on the big screen accompanied by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra playing the soundtrack live on 20 December. ‘Paddington Bear’s First Concert’, composed by Herbert Chappell, will follow and is narrated by special guest Pui Fan Lee from CBeebies.

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