Christmas success as the shows go on in Derby

The fairy, king, dame and jester linking arms and dancing on stage

Thu 13 Jan 2022

The cast of Sleeping Beauty. Photo by Pamela Raith

Theatre audiences returned for Festive Derby as more than 29,000 tickets were sold for three Christmas shows at Derby Arena and the Derby Loves You temporary indoor venue at Derby Market Place.

Sleeping Beauty, the pantomime produced by Little Wolf Entertainment and Derby LIVE, saw more than 26,000 tickets sold, with 10,000 of them for children. More than 3,000 tickets were sold for the two shows at the Derby Loves You venue by two much-loved local theatre companies: Babbling Vagabonds’ The Hungry Troll’s Christmas Dinner, and Panto:Impossible by The Lost Boys.

Unlike many theatre shows across the country, no performances were cancelled due to COVID as the more transmissible Omicron variant spread throughout the UK in December and during the festive season. Overall audience members were happy to comply with new Government requirements to wear face coverings.

Elsewhere in the city, Festive Derby brought Christmas lights and trees, a Gingerbread trail with fun characters for children to find, projections, hilarious walkabout acts and festive markets at Derby Market Place to brighten up Christmas shopping.

Derby City Council, Derby Museums, Derby Cathedral, Derby Theatre, Quad, Cathedral Quarter and St Peter’s Quarter Business Improvement Districts (BIDs), and Derbion were among the partners involved in bringing Christmas to the city, with Smooth Radio the media partner for Festive Derby.

Outside the city centre, Family Festivities returned as a live event at Markeaton Park on Sat 4 and Sun 5 Dec, with a free elf trail, festive food, music, an indoor craft market and much more. Back by popular demand, the Pet Grotto sold out in advance.

At the Derby Loves You temporary venue, The Lost Boys brought their irrepressible energy to Panto:Impossible, a fusion of panto and overblown spy films, performed by a cast of two for adults and families with older children. This Christmas cocktail that contains a dash of audience participation, a slug of stage fights, a serving of song and dance, all vigorously stirred not shaken with slapstick, plus a whole host of new characters.

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The Lost Boys in Panto:Impossible. Photo by IC Things Photography

The Hungry Troll’s Christmas Dinner was a heart-warming story told with the usual Babbling Vagabonds magic. Puppets, storytelling, shadows and song were all thrown into the mixing bowl to make the perfect cosy Christmas.

In their review Derby Days Out said:

The Babbling Vagabonds never fail to deliver fabulous, family friendly, festive fun and this year is no different… We were absolutely full to the brim with festive cheer after watching this fantastic show.”

‘Panto will ever go away again!’ was the pledge from pantomime dame Morgan Brind in the opening act of Sleeping Beauty at Derby Arena. The show featured former EastEnders star Rita Simons as the wickedly funny villain Carabosse, Morgan as Nurse Nancy Nightley in increasing wonderful and hilarious costumes, and returning favourites Richard Brindley as Mervin the Magician, and Abigail Finley as Fairy Lights.

Reviewers and audience members loved the show:

“…Sleeping Beauty is an impressive pageant from start to finish…everything you expect from a panto: songs, slapstick and spectacle...one of the best dames in the business.”British Theatre Guide

“….a fantastic magical show… We highly recommend Sleeping Beauty as the perfect panto for all the family!”Derby Days Out

Sleeping Beauty was definitely worth the wait… The set design is stunning with so much attention to detail and lighting that you could probably look at it for hours…”Derby Telegraph

Sleeping Beauty doesn’t disappoint with all the thigh slapping, boo-hissing, pun groaning, costume changing, high-kicking, side-splitting fun we’ve come to expect from our Derby panto.”Lots for Tots Derby

“…..one of the best pantomimes I have seen in many a year… The cast is superb with excellent acting, singing and dancing…”Theatre Online

“An excellent show from beginning to end. Took my 6 year old to her first panto, she was shouting with the best of them. Well done.”Audience member

Little Wolf Entertainment and Derby LIVE be back in December 2022 for Aladdin, and ticket sales have already got off to a flying start. Aladdin will be on stage at Derby Arena from Fri 9 Dec to Sat 31 Dec with tickets starting at £18 for adults, £16 for children and a new under 5s price of just £10 for any performance.

Concessions, group, school and family tickets are available. Discounted early-bird tickets are on sale now, offering a saving of £2 when you book by 31 May 2022. A range of accessible performances are available. Find out more and book online or call our Sales and Information Centre on 01332 255800.

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The Hungry Troll's Christmas Dinner. Image by IC Things Photography