No Christmas would be complete without a festive pantomime! This year, performances including Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs, Dick Whittington and Peter Pan will be taking over theatres across the UK.
Although many theatres are housed in old, listed buildings, some have been adapted to welcome disabled and elderly visitors. In this article, we look at the best Christmas pantomimes in accessible theatres so that you can start planning your festive season.
Cinderella, Hackney Empire, London
November 18 – December 31
Enjoy a unique performance of Cinderella this year at Hackney Empire. This classic rags to riches tale has been given a Hackney spin for the festive season and promises a night of fun for the whole family. Prepare yourselves for singing mice, glittering sets and big song and dance numbers. The historic theatre has lift access to all levels of the theatre auditorium for visitors with limited mobility. For guests attending in a wheelchair or motability scooter, there are six wheelchair spaces at the rear of the stalls. The theatre recommends that those in need of assistance arrive 45 minutes before the show starts.
Aladdin – The Rock ‘n’ Roll Panto, Leeds
November 24 – January 7
Following the success of last year’s raucous performance of Sleeping Beauty, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Panto is back at Leeds’ City Varieties Music Hall. This year’s pantomime is Aladdin, following the original story but with a few hilarious additions. Expect audience participation and lots of laughs, as well as an outstanding pop, rock and soul classics soundtrack to transform Leeds’ oldest theatre into a lively Christmas party. Following a refurbishment, City Varieties now offers lift access to all levels of the auditorium and has wheelchair spaces on each floor.
Elf The Musical, The Lowry, Manchester
November 24 – January 14
Everyone’s favourite Elf, Buddy, will take to the stage at The Lowry this year in a fabulously festive performance. Based on the 2003 film starring Will Ferrell, the panto will tell the story of Buddy, a young orphan child who crawls into Santa’s bag of gifts and is accidentally transported back to the North Pole. Starring TV and West End star Ben Forster as Buddy, Liz McClarnon as Jovie and Louis Emerick as Santa Claus, this promises to be a fun evening for the whole family. The Lowry welcomes visitors with limited mobility and has received a Silver award from Attitude is Everything for their dedication to enabling access to the venue.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pavilion Theatre, Worthing
December 1 – January 1
This year’s panto at Worthing Theatres welcomes an all-star cast including British pop star Chesney Hawkes and comedian Jo Brandi in a raucous production of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Expect beautiful costumes and impressive choreography at the Pavilion Theatre. We spoke to the team at Worthing Theatres about accessibility at the venue:
“Our Pavilion Theatre is wheelchair friendly, as is the picturesque café bar attached which overlooks the seafront. We have 9 dedicated spaces per performance for wheelchair users, with disabled toilet facilities in the adjoining café bar, as well as two separate entrances with ramps.”
Advanced booking is recommended due to the limited amount of accessible spaces. For all information on visiting with mobility problems, take a look at Worthing Theatres’ access page.
Peter Pan, Wyvern Theatre
December 2 – 31
This year’s Christmas panto at Swindon’s Wyvern Theatre is Peter Pan, starring soap star Adam Woodyatt (EastEnders’ Ian Beale). With fantastic scenery and plenty of laughs, this is one performance not to be missed in the South West. To find out more about the panto and access to the theatre, we spoke to Kate Claxton, marketing and press officer at Wyvern Theatre, about the show:
“The Wyvern Theatre’s production of Peter Pan is set to be a swashbuckling adventure for the whole family to enjoy!” said Kate. “Starring soap legend Adam Woodyatt as the crafty Captain Hook, Peter Pan features magnificent scenery, beautiful costumes, an abundance of comedy and stunning flying sequences. With sign language interpreted performances, an audio described show and a relaxed performance, there’s magic to be enjoyed by all this Christmas!”
Wyvern Theatre has made a great effort to be accessible to everyone. We asked Kate if there’s anything people with limited mobility need to know about visiting for this year’s panto:
“The Wyvern Theatre prides itself on being a welcoming venue for all, so much so we were crowned as the South West’s Most Welcoming Theatre by the UK Theatre Awards this October. It’s important to us to make all our visitors feel as safe and comfortable as possible and so we have access to disabled parking spaces, an accessible entrance, seating that requires no use of steps and easy access to disabled toilets.
“Our Ticket Office staff are always happy to advise of the best seats for your needs, whether you’d like to sit on an aisle, have a little extra leg room, stay in your wheelchair throughout the show or make use of our private, ramped box with disabled toilet, we’ll do all we can to accommodate you.”
Wizard of Oz, Theatre Royal Margate
December 9 – 31
A loveable scarecrow, a tornado of laughs and an all-round magical experience awaits you at this spectacular production of The Wizard of Oz. The show, taking over Theatre Royal Margate in December tells the story of Dorothy, who is blown away to the magical land of Oz with her dog, Toto. “This year’s panto will be our biggest and best yet,” said the team at Theatre Royal Margate, “with returning Margate Panto favourites Jezzo, Mandi Harkett and Georgia Rowland-Elliot as Scarecrow, Glinda and Dorothy, fabulous special effects, and fun for the whole family. This year, just click your heels, make a wish and we’ll see you here! (If you can’t find your red slippers, you could try calling the Box Office on 01843 292795).
“The Theatre Royal has just one small step at the front entrance, with a removable ramp available for wheelchair users. From there it’s level access all the way to the stalls (including the bar, ice cream kiosk and accessible toilet). Our friendly volunteers will make every effort to ensure that your visit to Theatre Royal Margate is as comfortable and enjoyable as possible – whatever your needs.”
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, New Theatre, Cardiff
December 9 – January 14
Combine a trip to Cardiff’s spectacular Christmas markets with an evening of theatre. This year’s panto at the city’s New Theatre is Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs starring Samantha Womack, Gareth Thomas, Mike Doyle, Chico, Tam Ryan and Stephanie Webber. You can expect plenty of laughter, sensational dance numbers and, of course, amazing costumes. The show opens in December and carries on throughout the month.
Visitors with limited mobility will find the theatre easy to navigate. There is level access for wheelchair users to the Box Office and Stalls Bar, side-by-side places with a seat for a companion in Row V of the Stalls and a disabled toilet. For full details on the spaces reserved for wheelchairs, take a look at the New Theatre website’s access page.
Dick Whittington, London Palladium
December 9 – January 14
Head to London’s West End for this fabulous production of Dick Whittington. Taking over the London Palladium from December 9th, the beloved story of Dick Whittington (played by Charlie Stemp) journeying through the streets of London accompanied by the Spirit of the Bells (played by Julian Clary) is guaranteed to get you in the festive spirit. As one of the more traditional British pantos, it’s well worth experiencing the show on a visit to the capital.
London Palladium is accessible to wheelchair users via lifts and ramps. An adapted toilet can be found on the right inside entrance in Ramillies Place. For more information, contact the Access Team at See Tickets via 020 7087 7966 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively call London Palladium directly on 0845 505 8500.
Peter Pan, Theatre Royal Plymouth
December 15 – January 13
Starring Steve McFadden – perhaps best known for his role as Phil Mitchell in EastEnders – Theatre Royal Plymouth’s production of Peter Pan promises a night of fun. Flying effects, barrels of laughter, magic and fairy dust are all guaranteed by the team, which takes place in the two weeks leading up to Christmas. Theatre Royal Plymouth has been designed with accessibility in mind; there are accessible toilets on all four floors as well as ramped access and a lift on the ground floor.
Jack and the Beanstalk, Scottish Event Campus, Glasgow
December 16 – January 7
Families will love this year’s panto at Scottish Event Campus. Unlike other traditional pantomimes, this epic production of Jack and the Beanstalk has a little trick up its sleeve. You can experience the show in 3D! Every hall in the SEC Centre is at ground level, and the upper levels of the SEC Armadillo (where the panto will take place) are accessible by lift. Guests can bring their own wheelchair and there are also wheelchairs available to borrow.
Puss in Boots, Hoxton Hall, London
December 13 – 28
Described by the theatre as the ‘purr-fest Christmas pantomime’, Puss in Boots gets a makeover in this festive production. The play, centred on Hoxton, offers music, dance and comedy and, if you’re visiting with family, take advantage of the Panto Family Offer – £49 for two adults and two children. Hoxton Hall is wheelchair accessible and has a lift to all floors. The venue advises anyone with special requirements to get in touch prior to their visit by calling: 020 7684 0060 or informing the team at the time of booking.
Cinderella, Birmingham Hippodrome
December 19 – January 28
Soul superstar Beverly Knight will make her panto debut in this sparkling performance of Cinderella at the Birmingham Hippodrome. Starring alongside is Strictly Come Dancing finalist Danny Mac, local panto favourite Matt Slack, pop and TV star Suzanne Shaw, comedy duo The Grumbleweeds and, of course, the fabulous Ugly Sisters – Ceri Dupree and Phil Randall.
The theatre is well-equipped to welcome guests with mobility problems. Automatic doors and lifts are available for wheelchair users, as well as disabled toilets on all levels and low-level counter service. The Circle Restaurant and StageSide on Thorp Street are also completely accessible.
Image credits: Wyvern Theatre, Theatre Royal Margate