The Alhambra Theatre pantomime brings together the work of over 30 technical and production staff, and 20 performers, as well as 23 local children as The Sunbeams. The cast is led by Bradford’s own prince of pantomime and king of comedy, Billy Pearce as Muddles; and X Factor and Popstar To Opera Star winner Joe McElderry, as The Spirit of the Mirror.
This year’s show is jam-packed with special effects and illusions, including a flying car, which travels over the heads of the audience below; and a flying giant Pterodactyl!
Talking about some of the illusions in store for Bradford audiences this year, the show’s Executive Producer Michael Harrison from Qdos Entertainment explains:
“Each year we have to work hard to beat the spectacle of the year before, so the effects become bigger and bolder. In this year’s pantomime as well as the flying car and Pterodactyl, we have also been training Billy for a very special trick which he will use to mark Snow White’s birthday… but in the spirit of surprise you’ll need to come along and see the show to find out how! In creating the show it’s important that the effects add to the story as well as looking impressive, so we work hard to ensure that each illusion helps to move the plot forward.”
In order to deliver this “five star production” (Yorkshire Post) packed with “a series of dazzling stunts” (Telegraph & Argus) - in addition to the talented performers on stage - there is an army of backstage people and production crew who work tirelessly during rehearsals and every performance to bring this magical show to life. Here’s a peak behind the scenes into what audiences might not know, and probably don’t see, in order to bring this amazing show to the stage:
• It took 3 days to bring the set, lighting and sound equipment into the theatre and 441 plugs were plugged in before rehearsals start on stage
• 22 members of backstage crew are needed to run each performance
• 15 pyrotechnics (special on-stage fireworks) are used during each show – so including final dress rehearsals 1,200 will have been fired during the entire run of panto
• 30 washing baskets are used to distribute and collect costumes for quick changes throughout the show
• 35 pairs of knee pads will have been used by the end of the run
• 35 hours have been spent polishing the car and checking the Pterodactyl’s teeth before each performance
• approximately 100 cups of tea and coffee are made in the green room each day by cast and crew
• 8 packs of chewing gum are used to help Muddles dance around the proscenium arch (!)
Billy and Joe are joined by established pantomime dame and musical theatre actor, Adam Stafford as Dame Betty Blumenthal; Jenny Gayner as Queen Sadista, the wicked queen; Charlotte Haines as Snow White; and David O’Mahony as Prince Benedict. The production also boasts an ensemble cast of performers, dancers, a live band and the traditional juvenile dance troupe, The Sunbeams, who appear on stage courtesy of Sara Packham’s Theatre School based in Cullingworth, Keighley.