Panto returns to Banbury

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For those who thought panto season was over, Avocet Theatre Company has a message: “Oh no it isn’t!”

Banbury’s pantomime specialists return next week with their unique and comedic take on Snow White.

After impressing audiences with a multitude of productions such as The Little Mermaid, Jack & the Beanstalk and their Winter Wonderland events, the group is thrilled to be back with their biggest production yet.

The company, made up of local adults and children alike, invites audiences to join them in a land where magic, music and wonder await. Full of high-voltage energy and a host of well-known musical numbers, the show follows Snow White (Amelia Haverson), a princess who lives in the palace under the thumb of her wicked stepmother, Queen Avarice (Ben Coleman).

Snow’s fortunes looks like they are about to change when she meets the dashing Prince Ferdinand (Phoebe Brogden). But her dreams of a happy ending are soon dashed when she finds out her stepmother also her eyes on the young prince.

When the queen finds out from Justice Quill (Jennie Healy) and his scribe Scribbles (Nigel Lyons) that her claim to the throne may be in danger, she sends Slurp the Huntsman (Sam Brittain) to remove Snow’s heart.

Luckily, Fairy Fortune (Louise Nunneley) vows to protect her and places her in the company of seven dwarfs, who have their own score to settle with the evil queen.

With help from her trusted friends – Edna Bucket (Gill Crowther) and Chuckles (Will Healy) - Snow vows to take back the kingdom so that goodness will prevail.

Find out whether Snow will defeat Queen Avarice, whether the prince and Snow will finally be together and whether a hapless understudy will be able to pull of the performance of his life when one of the dwarfs is rendered unable to perform.

As well as starring as Queen Avarice, ATC chairman and artistic director Ben Coleman has directed this year’s pantomime. He said: “This is without a doubt one of the most ambitious pantomimes Banbury has ever seen. No expense has been spared and the scale is that of a full musical.”

The group has also continued its mission to keep ticket prices as low as possible. “Theatre is expensive to produce,” said Mr Coleman. “It often costs many thousands of pounds to stage an amateur production but our aim is for theatre to be accessible to all ages. We find it such a shame that some cannot watch shows because they feel excluded by the price.”

Avocet Theatre Company was formed after the death of local pantomime regular Tom Greening, who had originally founded St John’s Drama Group in 2006. The group was closed in his memory and re-formed as Avocet Theatre Company. Since its reinvention, the group has taken on new and varied challenges to offer its members experiences not offered anywhere else in Banbury.

The group has even begun to produce its own web series. Acting Out is a mockumentary, similar to The Office, about a dysfunctional drama group.

Avocet Theatre Company is open to anyone aged eight to 80 and promises to be unlike any other group in the area. “We have lots of big plans to give our members a chance to be part of something truly unique,” said Ben.

Snow White runs at Wykham Theatre, Wykham Park Academy, from Thursday, March 28, to Saturday, March 30, starting at 7.30pm.

Tickets cost £10 for adults and £8 for concessions.

Visit www.AvocetTheatre.co.uk/tickets to book or for more information.