The curtain has gone up at the Forum Studio Theatre in Chester for Tip Top Productions' lavish staging of Chester's very own traditional family friendly pantomime which this year features a professional cast for the first time.
Since bringing pantomime back to Chester in 2009, Tip Top's spectacular Christmas offering has become a firm favourite in the city's Christmas calendar of events.
This year's show, Dick Whittington, runs at the city centre venue from December 4-30 December. With tickets starting at just £9 and generous discounts available for families, the producers are advising panto fans to book early to avoid disappointment.
Written by panto writing legend Peter Swingler OBE especially for a local audience and with plenty of topical gags thrown in, Dick Whittington promises to be fun for all ages as the audience is invited to boo, hiss, laugh and cheer as the story unfolds. Expect the usual mix of corny jokes, slapstick and plenty of popular songs to sing along to.
Director Steve Davies has brought together a professional cast which includes Eliza Hewiit-Jones in the title role of Dick Whittington, local actress Julie Blagrove as Fairy Bowbell and Kevin Dewsbury as Sarah The Cook, keeping alive the tradition of pantomime dame.
Eliza trained at the Italia Conti Academy of Performing Arts in London and is no stranger to the topsy turvy world of panto having already played Dick Whittington in a previous production. More recently, Eliza played Charlie in the 90s pop musical 2 Become 1 which previewed in London before a sell out run at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
Wrexham-based actress Julie Blagrove has been performing on stage since the age of three and trained at the Joyce Mason School of Dance before gaining a BA Hons in drama and theatre arts from Staffordshire University. Julie has appeared in numerous productions for Tip Tip plus several theatre companies in Chester and Wrexham as well as appearing in the feature film In Love with Alma Cogan.
No pantomime would be complete without a dame and so stepping into Sarah the Cook's shoes is Kevin Dewsbury from Northwich. Kevin trained at the Central School of Speech and Drama and is a former member of the National Youth Theatre.
Kevin is a familliar face to sports fans, playing James in the Stanjames advertising campaign. As a stand-up comedian, Kevin has been a support act for Rhod Gilbert and Tim Vine as well as making regular appearances at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
Full details of Dick Whittington and all other shows and events at the Forum Studio Theatre can be found at www.chestertheatre.co.uk where tickets can be booked online. Alternatively, contact the box office on 01244 341296.