Will panto be back at The Woodville this Christmas? OH YES IT WILL!
Fear not, Gravesend’s most popular tradition will return this season in spite of Covid-19.
Wicked Productions’ chief Tom Swift has been writing feverishly (sometimes until 2pm or even 3pm in the afternoon) to create a special socially distanced show to bring festive cheer and seasonal silliness to all the families of Gravesham.
Originally billed as Aladdin, unfortunately the flying carpet loses its magic with Princess Jasmine and Aladdin being socially distanced and balanced precariously at both ends, so their romance has been postponed until Christmas 2021.
In its place the pantomime will be all about Rapunzel, and she can’t wait to let her hair down for audiences this Christmas at The Woodville.
Tom, who also produces the pantomime, said: “We have managed to create a show which keeps audiences, theatre people and everyone on stage and backstage safe. In fact, it has allowed us to introduce hair-lairious elements into the production because of the need to maintain the romance despite the restrictions.
“Every cloud has a silver lining, so we are pleased to be able to confirm that revised VAT rates mean that this year’s panto tickets will be even better value as Gravesham Borough Council and Wicked Productions will be passing on these savings to our lovely audience.
“So if you are not already one of the thousands who say Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a trip to The Woodville for the annual panto, this is your chance.”
Cllr Shane Mochrie-Cox, Gravesham Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Community and Leisure, welcomed the news that panto is going ahead.
“I am really glad and would like to thank the teams at The Woodville and Wicked Productions for working hard to ensure that one of the great British traditions at Christmas time is still being put on in a safe and Covid secure way for everyone to enjoy.
“It sounds like a great show has been put together and I look forward to joining the audience with my own family.”
Mandy Hare, The Woodville's manager, said: “I am absolutely delighted that we are able to work with Wicked Productions to bring a hilarious socially distanced Christmas show, Rapunzel, to our audiences.
“Goodness knows we all deserve some laughter this year of all years and I know that Tom Swift and his team will certainly deliver on that score; plus we look forward to welcoming back panto favourites, Robert Pearce, Nicky Trix and Rob Cummings.
“We will, of course, be adhering to all Government guidelines that are put in place for this season to help us to stay safe.These measures will mean the experience will feel a little different, but I can assure our patrons that we will do all we can to make your trip to The Woodville fun and fabulous and full of Christmas joy.
‘All customers who have tickets for Aladdin will be contacted by us so that they can move or change their tickets and they will also be given priority booking for Rapunzel.”
Tickets will go on general sale on 10 September.
The show will run for 90 minutes, without an interval for safety.
Rapunzel opens on 11 December and runs until 3 January. With a reduced capacity of 180 tickets per performance to adhere to social distancing, it’s sure to sell out quickly.
More details of the Covid-19 measures we will be taking to keep everyone safe will be announced in due course.
So get ready for a rip roaring, non-stop, barrage of fun with this tangled fairy tale. But keep your hair on, the fun starts on 11 December.