A Chester and Wrexham based Theatre Company is celebrating 10 years of presenting Pantomimes in Chester as final preparations for one of the highlights in the City’s annual Christmas calendar get underway at a popular City Centre theatre.
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Produced by Tip Top Productions at The Forum Studio Theatre, Chester’s very own traditional family-friendly Pantomime has become a firm favourite with young and old alike in the 10 years since the company staged the festive treat in the City for the first time back in 2009 and the show’s producers promising that this year’s Panto will be bigger and better than ever before. The cast of this year’s Panto, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” gathered at the theatre for the first time recently and are all thrilled to be bringing the festive tale to life on stage in Chester. The show, written and directed by Peter Swingler OBE will be staged at the popular City centre venue from Friday 29th November 2019 – Saturday 4th January 2020.
The fully professional cast which this year features several new faces including Bethan Fflint as Snow White. Bethan trained at the London School of Musical Theatre and recently completed a run in The Little Mermaid. Previous roles include Mari in Welsh premier of My Land’s Shore and as a vocalist with the Headliners Theatre Company onboard P&O cruises fleet of luxury cruise ships. Previous pantomime experience includes playing Malevola, the baddie in Sleeping Beauty. Bethan is delighted to be joining Tip Top in Chester for this year for Chester’s very own traditional family Pantomime.
No Pantomime would be complete without the brave hero and so back by popular demand once again this year having played the title role of Aladdin in last year’s box office smash, Chester’s own Ashley Sollars has the job of waking Snow White from her slumbers as the show’s hero Archie. Born in Chester and raised in Broughton, professional Actor and Singer Ashley is delighted to be returning to appear is this year’s Pantomime. Ashley first set foot on stage with Tip Top Productions in a production of “Godspell” aged just 11 and went on to appear in a whole host of Tip Top’s shows before becoming a professional performer and embarking on a career which to date has included TV show “Don’t Stop Believing” for Channel 5, and “Back to Broadway” for Main Feature Productions in Dubai. Most recently, Ashley spent several years travelling the world whilst performing in production shows for Princess Cruises as a lead vocalist before recently returning to the North West and touring theatres as Frankie Valli in “Bye Bye Baby” which features the music of legendary 60s group the Four Seasons. Earlier this year, Ashley appeared in the very first stage adaptation of the BBC TV comedy “Coupling” which was staged at The Forum Studio Theatre and directed by his partner Josephine McHugh who is playing The Wicked Queen this Christmas.
Actress and Singer Josephine who is also a vocal coach has been performing professionally for the last 10 years including as lead vocalist in production shows onboard various cruise lines as well as various UK and European tours, theme park shows and a vast array of professional pantomimes. She is looking forward to lots of fun taunting Snow White at Christmas when she plays the Wicked Queen!
Also joining Tip Top’s Panto family for the first time is Rich Roberts who takes on the role of the children’s favourite, Simple Simon. Rich has enjoyed the last few years working on family shows, particularly working with Sooty at various venues throughout the UK. Rich’s other performance credits include live touring stage versions of “Rastamouse” and childhood favourites “The Clangers”.
No Pantomime would be complete without its Dame and this year’s show is no exception with Tip Top favourite Andrew Rawlinson-Heath donning some outrageous costumes as Nurse Kitty Litter and making his Dame debut. Andrew has been a big hit with panto audiences over the last two years with his now-famous “Wotcha Mate” catchphrase and had the audience in fits of laughter as the Slave of the Ring in “Aladdin” last year. Andrew’s professional theatre credits include playing Angel in the London production of “Rent” and as Makka Pakka in a national touring production of “In The Night Garden” as well as countless appearances in panto and musical theatre productions with Tip Top and other local companies.
Speaking about the company celebrating 10 years of presenting Panto in Chester, writer and director Peter Swingler OBE said “In addition to this being the 10th anniversary of us staging Pantomimes in Chester, it’s also 30 years since I founded what was then known as Tip Top Musicals so this is quite a big year for us. Tip Top’s first panto was Cinderella on 2nd January 1996 at William Aston Hall, Wrexham, featuring Marcher Sound presenters Kevin Howard and Steve Furnell plus legendary Wrexham dancer, choreographer and panto producer in her own right, Kathie Dougall MBE.” The show was written and directed by Peter who started writing pantomime scripts in 1976. Peter added “Since Tip Top’s arrival at the Forum Studio Theatre Chester in 2007 our pantomime has grown from strength to strength and is regarded by many of our supporters as the ‘must-see’ at Christmas. At first, I was hesitant in bringing such a big production to the intimate studio but paradoxically the show works for our family audiences because the children love being right in the action yet we are able to retain all the traditional aspect of pantomime. I know that our audiences are in for another festive treat as we present Chester’s one and only traditional family-friendly Pantomime at the Forum Studio Theatre once again this year.”
Full details of “Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs” and all upcoming shows and events at The Forum Studio Theatre including dates and performance times can be found online at www.chestertheatre.co.uk. Tickets can also be booked in person at the Visitor Information Centre at Chester Town Hall and the Tourist Information Centre in Wrexham. Alternatively, contact the box office on 01244 341296.