Recognised annually as one of the best in the country – the Greenwich Theatre pantomime is even more special this year as it represents a cornerstone in the theatre’s 50th anniversary celebrations – and Andrew Pollard – the dame of dames – can’t wait to get “the family” back together for a Sleeping Beauty that also pays tribute to Ewan Hooper, the man who saved the building from demolition back in 1969.
A stellar cast will bring to life the story of a time-hopping sleeping princess and an artistic director fighting to save a derelict theatre. The year is 1851 and Princess Anastasia is born of Tsar Ivar the Mildly Irritable and Tsarina Bertha. The fabulous Fairy Fabergé blesses the princess but when the wicked Rasputin appears and casts an evil spell on the little princess all seems lost. Meanwhile, in 1969, Ewan Hooper is planning his grand reopening of Greenwich Theatre before a peculiar stranger summons him back in time. Can he, with the help of some trusty allies, save both the theatre and the doomed princess?
Sleeping Beauty, last staged at Greenwich Theatre in 2006 when Andrew Pollard gave his first ever performance as the theatre’s pantomime dame, features dazzling new sets and costumes, incorporating the wonderful world of Sovereign Russia and a sprinkling of 1969 London.
Alongside a host of new surprises set to be unveiled in the retelling of this classic fairy tale, audiences will also enjoy seeing returning faces, with the British Pantomime Awards-nominated Anthony Spargo appearing as the villain, and musical maestro ‘Uncle Steve’ Markwick and the band creating all the wonderful music.
Greenwich Theatre prides itself on having one of the best traditional, celebrity-free pantomimes in the country. It is an ensemble show with some of the best professional actors around and provides opportunities to many up and coming performers on the theatre circuit. The 50th Anniversary pantomime, Sleeping Beauty, celebrates the past and champions the theatre’s future as it looks forward to the next 50 years.
Writer, director and dame Andrew Pollard said: “What’s wonderful this year is that we’ll be honouring the theatre and the 50th anniversary of its reopening and it may well be the maddest show we’ve ever done! Including Ewan in the production makes it extra special, we had conversations with him and it was great to receive his blessing.”
James Haddrell, the theatre’s artistic and executive director, said: “We’ve worked for over a decade with Andrew to develop a blueprint for what has become one of the country’s most highly regarded, traditional and celebrity-free pantomimes.
“This special year it has a slightly wider context and I’m delighted that Ewan Hooper, the visionary young actor who led the fund-raising campaign to save the theatre all those years ago, is very much behind the panto and has agreed to work on an audio prologue to the show.
“The pantomime, in a very real way, has been crucial in keeping us open over the years as funding has been reduced during austerity. Sleeping Beauty will have all the usual Andrew Pollard touches, the local gags and music audiences have come to love and expect over the last decade, but this will be a unique and quite emotional panto on top of all that, embedded in the history of this very special building.”
Greenwich Theatre, Crooms Hill, Greenwich, London, SE10 8ES from Friday 22nd November 2019 – Sunday 12th January 2020. Times: Varying – See Website for details. Admission: £15.50 – £30. Phone: 020 8858 7755.