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Storybook and computer puppets set to add a bit of magic to popular seaside pantomime

PUBLISHED: 10:26 04 December 2018 | UPDATED: 10:30 04 December 2018

Sheringham Little Theatre panto stars Niall Kiely and Tilda Fassih with Siri Siri and Sir Reads-a-Lot the puppets. Photo: RICHARD BATSON

Sheringham Little Theatre panto stars Niall Kiely and Tilda Fassih with Siri Siri and Sir Reads-a-Lot the puppets. Photo: RICHARD BATSON

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A book and a computer tablet come alive on stage at Sheringham Little Theatre this Christmas, thanks to the magic of panto puppeteers.

Sir Reads-A-Lot is a traditional storybook with a friendly whiskery face, and Sir Siri is his modern-day counterpart with a range of ‘apps’.

Part of the action in Beauty and the Beast, they are the product of director Nick Earnshaw’s imagination, the skills of puppeteer Matt Reeve and the acting talents of two young cast members.

Giving inanimate objects a life and character was a challenge for puppet-maker Mr Reeve, who also works for Norwich Puppet Theatre, and last year created dog and monkey duo Toto and Coco for a Wizard of Oz show, which is being staged at St George’s Theatre, Great Yarmouth this festive season.

“Any object can be brought to life as a puppet - a stick, a cloth, a ball,” he said. “It’s all about imagination – with a dash of engineering, character design, materials science, construction skills and, most importantly, patience.”

Mr Reeve added that his biggest challenge was creating Siri Siri the tablet from what he said was “essentially a flat, silvery rectangle.”

Reads-A-Lot sports a characterful old fashioned moustache, while both puppets have working mouths and swivelling ‘Action Man’ eyes.

The puppets are worked on stage by actors Tilda Fassih and Niall Kiely, instead of appearing through hatches as in previous years.

Tilda is a Little Theatre youth production regular and Niall joined her in this year’s Little Women: The Musical Show.

Panto director Mr Earnshaw said: “Having actors and puppets in unison adds an extra element not seen before at Sheringham Little Theatre.

Matt’s puppets are so loveable and add to the magic of storytelling we pride ourselves in the panto.”

Theatre director Debbie Thompson said: “Last year’s puppets went down a storm so we wanted to build on that success this panto season.

“The Beauty and the Beast story lends itself to puppetry and these characters show two different ways of storytelling.”

Beauty and the Beast runs at Sheringham Little Theatre from Saturday until January 1st. Tickets, priced £19 (£14 Under 16s), are available from the box office on 01263 822347 or book online at www.sheringhamlittletheatre.com

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