The title character in this year’s pantomime at Milton Keynes Theatre walks for miles in search of fame and fortune, strolling to London where he has been told the streets are paved with gold. Fortunately for theatregoers in the new city, Dick Whittington provides panto gold right on our doorstep! Melding magic, merriment and mayhem, the festive extravaganza is packed full of fun and stars a Christmas cracker of a cast.

Penniless Dick is played with warmth and wit (certainly more wit than is often granted to these boyish roles in panto) by actor Chris Jenkins. After packing his knapsack and lacing up his boots, this earnest chap ventures off towards the big smoke (striding “all the way from Cheltenham”), accompanied by his feline friend Tommy the Cat. When the duo finally arrive in the confusing city of Cockney conversation, they are disappointed not to be welcomed by golden paving stones. Completely famished and ready to earn an honest living, they discover that their promised land is overrun with villainous rats. Happily, they land on their feet (“miaow!”) when Tommy proves himself to be a top-notch rat-catcher and secures them both jobs in merchant Alderman Fitzwarren’s shop, Fitzwarren’s Stores.

Kev Orkian is panto personified as the shop’s assistant Idle Jack (swiftly promoted by Alderman to “assistant shop assistant” when Master Whittington appears on the scene!). Returning to the stage in what has become his regular Yuletide gig, Orkian easily proves why he is without question one of the UK’s finest entertainers. As an internationally acclaimed comedy pianist he is well-practised at simultaneously tinkling the ivories and tickling funny bones. With no piano in Dick Whittington (all the fantastic music is overseen by “Uncle Baz”, musical director Barry Robinson), Orkian is free to roam around the stage and has the audience in stitches throughout.

 

mk-theatre-panto-christmas-2016-dick-whittington-kev-orkian-as-idle-jack-tommy-the-cat-and-dick

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Gags, giggles and glitz galore ensure that Milton Keynes Theatre’s fantastical take on Aladdin is full of festive family fun.

The genie-ously cast pantomime stars singer-songwriter Ben Adams as the love-struck lad from Old Peking, entertainer Kev Orkian as his ridiculously funny brother Wishee Washee and showbiz stalwart Gary Wilmot as their panto dame mother Widow Twankey. Ballet dancer turned celebrity Wayne Sleep and American actress (and, yes, former wife of cultural icon Elvis Presley) Priscilla Presley make wishes come true as the Genie of the Ring and the Genie of the Lamp, respectively.

Complete with spectacular singing, enthusiastic dancing, stacks of silliness and more audience participation than ever before, Aladdin proves once again that the theatre is a place for everyone. In panto anything goes, and this show has all sorts of entertaining eccentricities!

 

Milton Keynes Theatre presents Aladdin with Priscilla Presley Gary Wilmot Ben Adams Wayne Sleep Kev Orkian Mark Pickering Aimie Atkinson and Phil Holden

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Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho, off to Panto-land we go!

 

Seven diamond-mining dwarfs and a handsome prince battle to save a beautiful princess from the tyranny of her jealous stepmother in this year’s seasonal spectacular at Milton Keynes Theatre.

The timeless fairytale Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is brought to life with charismatic characters, toe-tapping song and dance numbers and stunning sets – plus plenty of comedy.

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Magical book of Panto and wand picture

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I HAD A BALL AND YOU WILL TOO!

It just wouldn’t be Christmas without some panto magic and Cinderella at Milton Keynes Theatre pulls out all the stops to cast its spell over audiences.

I was delighted to attend press night for the annual pantomime at the new city’s incredibly popular theatre – particularly after having interviewed leading lady Anna Williamson (Cinderella) and the multi-talented Kev Orkian (Buttons) a couple of weeks ago.

 

Cinderella programme

 

On arrival at the theatre, I was pleased to see audience members of all ages (from the very young to those in the ‘grannies and granddads’ age bracket) milling around, enthusiastically awaiting the beginning of an evening of festive sparkle. Carol singers from Arts1 School of Performance filled the steps of the theatre, helping to set the mood and providing distraction from the bitterly cold weather outside.

Meanwhile, excited youngsters queued up to bag their very own “bundle” of glowing goodies (complete with fairy wings and magic wand in the “Cinderella Bundle”, and different shaped light-up treats and magic wand in the “Buttons’ Bundle” and “Baron’s Bundle”, respectively).

Taking a seat in the auditorium, Christmas songs were playing to get everyone in the mood and the safety curtain was lifted up to reveal a stunning purple and pink themed Cinderella backdrop, showcasing lit up candelabras and swirls and flowers.

From the off, traditional good cheer fills the stage as the well-loved fairytale is brought to life in Eric Potts’ sharply written take on a classic story.
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