Christmas Boing! at Bristol Old Vic

There are beds to be jumped on, pillows to be fought with, seas to be sailed...  

Who can sleep on Christmas Eve? This piece of dance-theatre captures the delirious excitement of two boys waiting for Santa to arrive on the most magical night of the year.
Travelling Light and Bristol Old Vic have confirmed the lead roles for Sally Cookson’s award-winning production of Boing! will be Wilkie Branson reprising his role as Wilkie and Bristol Old Vic Theatre School graduate Kel Matsena making his professional debut as Wilkie’s mischievous and playful brother.  
Boing! has been a Christmas fixture in theatres since its conception, achieving sell-out Christmas runs at The Unicorn Theatre and Saddlers Wells in London.

Designed for two to seven-year olds, the show premiered at Christmas 2010 in Bristol Old Vic’s former New Vic Studio.

It was directed by Olivier Award-winning director Sally Cookson and choreographed by Bristol B-Boys Wilkie Branson and Joêl Daniel.

It went on to win the 2016 Off West End Award (OFFIE) for Best Show for Children and Young People aged 0-7.
Having toured New York and Beijing from Dec to Jan 2019, it now returns home to takeover Bristol Old Vic’s new Weston Studio throughout the Christmas period. 
Wilkie Branson is an interdisciplinary artist; the focus of his work lies in both dance and film, with origins rooted in b-boying (breakdance). He was awarded The Arts Foundation Choreographic Fellowship in 2012, the John Brabourne Award in 2019, and is a New Wave Associate Artist at Sadler’s Wells and was an original member of the Sadler’s Wells Summer University – an international selection of emerging choreographers. He is currently developing new work for Sadler’s Wells while his new award-winning short film Little Dreams is being screened and broadcast internationally.
His other choreography credits for young people includes: Varmints, White Caps (Travelling Light); Baddies: the Musical, Minotaur, The Nutcracker and The Mouse King and The Velveteen Rabbit (Unicorn). 
Kel Matsena is currently in his final year at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. With a background in an array of dance forms from folk and traditional dances all the way to ballet, he has been able to develop a unique style. He has worked with National Youth Dance Wales for three years with choreographers including Kerry Nicholls, Neil-Fleming Brown and Eleesha Drennan and is also co-Artistic Director of Matsena Performance Theatre and Three Tone Theatre Company. Kel will be seen this summer in the title role of 'Nicholas' in the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School production The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, which will play at Bristol Old Vic this June. 

Boing plays from Friday to Sunday, November 29-January 5 in The Weston Studio, Bristol Old Vic at various times.

To book onine tickets from £10 click HERE.

PHOTO: Top Wilkie Branson and Kel Matsena

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Returning also for the Christmas season after its record-breaking run last year, Tom Morris’ (The Grinning Man, Swallows & Amazons) enchanting adaptation of Charles Dickens’ timeless tale, A Christmas Carol, is back!

With Lee Lyford at the helm and music by Gwyneth Herbert (The Snow Queen), this spectacular show is not to be missed.

The turkeys are hanging in St Nick’s butchers shop, the Christmas Steps are decked with holly, but Christmas Eve is a bleak night for miserly money-lender Ebenezer Scrooge. Before the night is through, he is visited by four ghosts who show him chilling portraits of his past, present and future. 

As the sun rises, he comes to see the bitter truth of his selfish life; learning kindness, compassion and, ultimately, the true meaning of Christmas.

Dickens’ classic comedy provides the perfect accompaniment to your 2019 festivities, exploring what it might take for a hard-hearted skinflint to transform into the living embodiment of the spirit of Christmas. 

So, from Nov 2019, join Bob Cratchit, Tiny Tim and Scrooge himself in this riot of music and theatrical imagination, with a heart as big as Bristol.

For more details and to book click HERE.

To read a review of the 2018 production click HERE and for a review of the 2019 production click HERE.

Ends Tuesday, December 31.

Saikat Ahamed, Neil Haigh and George Rea

MAGICAL PANTO: Nailsea Musicals present Cinderella at the Scotch Horn Centre from Thursday to Saturday, January 23-25. Thursday and Friday performances are at 7.30pm with two shows on Saturday at 12.30pm and 5.30pm. Online tickets adult £12, child £10 plus booking fee with discounts for groups by clicking HERE. Tickets are also on sale at Nailsea Music Shop. The Saturday matinee performance gets booked very quickly...

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From West End via EastEnders Dick Whittington is Bristol star 

The ultimate rags to riches story comes to Bristol Hippodrome this Christmas in the magical family pantomime Dick Whittington, led by soap-sensation and musical theatre star Shane Richie.

Bristol Hippodrome’s panto will bring the set, costumes and staging previously seen in Qdos Entertainment’s acclaimed production at the London Palladium to the City with a brand-new script.

The much-loved story of Dick Whittington outwitting King Rat, winning Alice’s hand in marriage and becoming Lord Mayor of London will be brought to life with comedy, spectacle, live music and plenty of audience participation.

Having established himself as one of the nation’s favourite soap stars, Shane Richie has won numerous awards and millions of fans for his portrayal of Albert Square’s loveable landlord Alfie Moon in EastEnders. The King of the East End will hear the familiar peel of Bow Bells starring as our hero Dick, seeking his fame and fortune on the rat-infested streets of London this festive season.

Shane’s numerous television credits also include Oliver Twist, Skins, New Tricks, Minder and What We Did on Our Holidays. In addition to acting, Shane has also hosted a number of high-profile gameshows including the primetime lottery quiz Win Your Wish List and Decimate. He also starred in Redwater and Making Dad’s Army for the BBC and Benidorm for ITV1.

Shane will be joined by Cbeebies favourite Jennie Dale who will play Queen Rat. Jennie Dale is known for playing Captain Captain in Swashbuckle on Cbeebies. Jennie Dale has also been in The Tracey Ullman Show, Midsomer Murders, Victoria Wood's Mid-life Christmas and What Larks. As well as playing Deb in the hilarious and hearting warming Elf and parts in Les Miserables 25th Anniversary Concert, 42nd Street, Singin' in the Rain, Mamma Mia!, Oliver!, Sister Act and Scrooge to name a few.

Qdos Entertainment’s managing director Michael Harrison explains “Following the amazing audience feedback we received about last year’s production of Cinderella we wanted to make sure that this year’s Bristol Hippodrome pantomime is even bigger and more magical than ever.

"The opportunity to once again bring our dazzling West End production values to the city was an opportunity we didn’t want to miss.

"The stunning scenery and effects in our Dick Whittington production will be a perfect setting for Shane Richie to bring his unique high-energy comedy to the panto stage.”

Bristol Hippodrome theatre director Jenny Hutchinson said: “Having

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GIANT RATS: The Bristol Hippodrome launched its 2019-20 pantomime Dick Whittington supported locally by Clarks Village with a photocall at Bristol Harbour Hotel

secured the London Palladium set and staging, and a brand new script written exclusively for Shane Richie, we are delighted to be hosting Dick Whittington which will wow our Bristol audiences.

"The bar was set high with the incredible season we had with award nominated Cinderella last year starring Brian and Gok, and producers QDOS Entertainment are making sure Bristol is once again thrilled throughout the festive season.

"We can’t wait!”

Qdos Entertainment is the world’s biggest pantomime producer, staging 35 shows in towns and cities across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Dick Whittington plays from Saturday to Sunday, December 7-January 5 replacing the previously advertised production of Robin Hood.

All tickets previously purchased for Robin Hood remain valid for Dick Whittington.

For online tickets from £13 and more information click HERE or call 0844 871 3012.

To read a review click HERE.


Cinderella at Weston

Everyone’s favourite pantomime Cinderella is coming to Weston-super-Mare this December - and you could win tickets to the perfect show for the whole family.

Following the phenomenal success of last year’s production, Linda Lusardi is making a welcome return to The Playhouse, trading in the Wicked Queen’s evil cape for the Fairy Godmother’s magical gown.

While evil has been replaced with good, Linda is also swapping one family member for another.

Audiences will remember Linda’s daughter Lucy Kane playing the title role of Snow White in last year’s panto; in this year’s production Linda’s husband Sam Kane will be joining Linda amongst the cast playing one of the Ugly Sisters.

Sam Kane, best known for his roles in Brookside, Coronation Street and Emmerdale will also be directing this year’s pantomime and is certainly no stranger to pantomime.

Panto has played a huge part in Sam's life.

Starting more than 30 years ago, he's performed and directed this amazing art almost every Christmas since.

His first experience in pantomime was at the tender age of 17 in the chorus as a dancer.

He soon went on to play lead roles as Prince, Baddie, Henchman and this year he's looking forward to his second time in a frock, as Ugly Sister.

Sam said: “Panto is all about family. It brings every generation together into the theatre, in one go, from grandparents to grandchildren.

That is just magic...making all of those generations laugh, cry, boo and hiss together is what panto is all about.”

Following the rags to riches story of Cinderella, the show has all the ingredients of a traditional pantomime - family friendly comedy, spectacular special effects, lively song and dance numbers, and of course real Shetland ponies.

Playhous general manager Mark Thompson said: “After Linda wowed our audiences last year, we are thrilled and delighted that’s Linda’s agreed to return this year and join us once again bringing a wealth of experience and talent to our festive, family pantomime.

Linda will be joined by a host of incredibly talented performers, such as Amy Thompson and Sam Kane, both of whom are very experienced in the world of pantomime having played to audiences up and down the country at some of the UK’s largest and most prestigious venues.

“The Playhouse is known for being the pantomime that puts family at the heart of what it does, ensuring that there’s something for all members of

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the family from the youngest to the most life experienced and this year will be no different!​Cinderella will also stars Amy Thompson from Channels 5’s Milkshake, Joe Rowntree as Buttons, and Stewart Briggs alongside Sam as an Ugly Sister.

  • Performances run from Saturday, December 7, culminating in the final performance on New Year’s Eve, Tuesday, December 31, to end another year of entertainment at The Playhouse,Weston-super-Mare.