‘Tis the season to be silly and this year’s pantomime at Milton Keynes Theatre is a cheerfully chaotic take on the famous British legend Robin Hood.
In time-honoured panto tradition, the action-packed show features colourful costumes and sets, reworked pop songs, men dressed (barely!) as women, slapstick comedy and jokes that push the boundaries of innuendo.
Furthermore, in a more forward-thinking fashion to complement the old-school theatrical magic, Qdos Entertainment also incorporates an innovative 3D cinema interlude and uses thrilling technology to add a life-sized dinosaur to the mix. Madness? Yes, but this is pantomime so anything can happen!
Panto can be predictable but there are some unexpected highlights in the gloriously excessive production of Cinderella at Milton Keynes Theatre.
Pitched as “The Fairy Godmother of all Pantomimes” this extravaganza certainly conjures up enough seasonal silliness and sparkly spectacle to entertain theatregoers of all ages.
The rags to riches tale of downtrodden Cinders and her life-changing visit to Prince Charming’s Royal Ball is being brought to the stage with no expense spared this time around. The big budget is unmistakably evident in the amazing assortment of sets, props, costumes, special effects and cameo appearances on display amidst the conventional chaos of panto.
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.
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!
This Christmas, renowned British dancer, director, choreographer, actor and panellist Wayne Sleep will perform in pantomime at Milton Keynes Theatre.
Before the rehearsals began, Wayne had a bit of a chinwag with Georgina Butler…
Famous for being the shortest male dancer to ever attend The Royal Ballet School (he is 5’2″), Wayne Sleep is best known for his career as a celebrated Senior Principal Dancer with The Royal Ballet. Numerous roles were created for him by some of the world’s greatest choreographers and he frequently featured as a guest artist with other companies.
Appointed OBE in 1998, Wayne has also received honorary degrees from the Universities of Exeter and Teesside; is a Patron of the British Ballet Organization; is a Vice-President of the Royal Academy of Dance and has two entries in The Guinness Book of Records. In addition to dancing, Wayne also acts and makes appearances as a dance judge and celebrity. His credits include West End, regional and touring theatre productions; television shows and films – not to mention a plethora of pantomimes!