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Work starts at Sheringham’s ‘panto factory’

PUBLISHED: 10:07 22 November 2017 | UPDATED: 10:10 22 November 2017

The cast of the Sheringham Little Theatre pantomime, The Wizard of Oz. Back, from left: Toto the dog, Kyle Fraser, Shane Armstrong, Loraine Metcalfe, Front: Harry Williams, Coco the monkey, Rik Warren, Hana Stewart.  Photo: RICHARD BATSON

The cast of the Sheringham Little Theatre pantomime, The Wizard of Oz. Back, from left: Toto the dog, Kyle Fraser, Shane Armstrong, Loraine Metcalfe, Front: Harry Williams, Coco the monkey, Rik Warren, Hana Stewart. Photo: RICHARD BATSON

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A creative crew has clocked on at Sheringham’s “panto factory”, ready to make a magical festive show.

The cast of the Sheringham Little Theatre pantomime The Wizard of Oz in rehearsals ready for opening night on December 9. Photo: RICHARD BATSONThe cast of the Sheringham Little Theatre pantomime The Wizard of Oz in rehearsals ready for opening night on December 9. Photo: RICHARD BATSON

Cast and crew have now arrived at the town’s Little Theatre and rehearsals have begun on a production line which will manufacture the Wizard of Oz, bringing the show to life in the space of just a few days.

Director Nick Earnshaw said: “The theatre becomes a panto factory for the next two weeks.

Sheringham Little Theatre pantomime Wizard of Oz star Coco the monkey learning his lines ready for opening night.  Photo: RICHARD BATSONSheringham Little Theatre pantomime Wizard of Oz star Coco the monkey learning his lines ready for opening night. Photo: RICHARD BATSON

“We expect the actors to have learned their lines, so on day one we begin ‘blocking’ - which is rehearsing their positions on stage – then we slowly add more layers are we progress.”

That means sorting out songs, dance routines, costumes and props, and adding constantly-changing stage sets to chart the adventures of Dorothy and her pals the Tin Man, Scarecrow and Lion, Mr Earnshaw explained.

The cast of the Sheringham Little Theatre pantomime, The Wizard of Oz, which opens on December 9. Photo: RICHARD BATSONThe cast of the Sheringham Little Theatre pantomime, The Wizard of Oz, which opens on December 9. Photo: RICHARD BATSON

There are also sound effects and animated sequences, as well as two chase scenes – which are “organised chaos” – to be fine-tuned.

All the actors bar Hana Stewart, who is Dorothy, also have to learn puppetry skills to bring alive a dog and a monkey, who are also key members of the cast.

“There are two troops of local youngsters who play farmhands, flying monkeys and even “Strictly” dancers, so there is a lot to learn for everyone,” Mr Earnshaw said.

Days can last from 9.30am to 7.30pm to get the show ready for preview audiences, with the official curtain up happening on Saturday December 9.

Mr Earnshaw said there would be lots of fun and surprises, including a novel way of getting audiences involved with singalong sessions.

“I love traditional panto, having been brought up on it, but we like to find ways of adding new elements,” he added.

The rest of this year’s cast are Harry Williams (Scarecrow) Rik Warren (Lion), Kyle Fraser (Tin Man), Loraine Metcalfe (Wicked Witch of the West), Shane Armstrong (Glinda Witch of the North) and the voice of West End School of Rock actor David Fynn as Great Oz.

The Wizard of Oz runs at Sheringham Little Theatre from December 9 to January 1. For more information and tickets call the box office on 01263 822347 or visit www.sheringhamlittletheatre.com


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