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Curtain set to go up as pantomime finally returns to Shrewsbury

County audiences are set for a welcome trip back to Neverland with the spectacular return of Shrewsbury's pantomime.

Eric Smith and Brad Fitt ahead of the opening of the Panto Adventures of Peter Pan
Eric Smith and Brad Fitt ahead of the opening of the Panto Adventures of Peter Pan

This morning sees the curtain go up on more than 60 performances of the The Panto Adventures of Peter Pan at Theatre Severn, with the cast of 13 delighted to be bringing pantomime back to a live audience.

It is two years since the theatre hosted its last Christmas panto, with the pandemic wiping the festive fixture out of the calendar for 2020.

Brad Fitt returns for his tenth pantomime at the venue as dame, while popular former BBC Shropshire Breakfast radio host Eric Smith is back taking on a host of parts.

Brad, 46, said they were thrilled to be able to get back to entertaining a live audience.

He said: "It is lovely to be back after last year and nice to be back in the building doing a job we all love. From the people I have spoken to and bumped into, so many people have said they are looking forward to coming, that they had postponed tickets from last year to this year – lots of people just saying how much they missed it, so it is lovely to be back. We can't wait to be back in front of the people of Shropshire."

Brad said that with all the rehearsals done it is now time for the final ingredient – the audience.

He promised another great family show with an updated classic providing plenty of laughs and more than a few surprises.

He said: "It is a slightly updated story, it is great fun, there are a few surprises, a great set. It is just lovely to be back on stage, being silly and having a laugh.

"It has been a tough time for everyone so it is nice to get on and hopefully it is an opportunity where people can immerse themselves in a bit of make-believe with the family."

The cast of The Panto Adventures of Peter Pan ahead of their opening show

Eric also told of his delight at getting back to the stage, and being able to offer some entertainment for the people of the county.

He said: "It is fabulous. It has been two years now and everyone is just thrilled to be back."

He said they were looking forward to sharing the latest production with the audiences for the first time – and excited about the reaction.

He said: "They will laugh their socks off. There is no doubt about it, it is spectacular, there is flying, there is comedy and there are some big, big surprises."

He added: "When you are rehearsing you get to the stage where you need an audience. I have had people from September saying 'have you started rehearsals yet' so now we can't wait to get going."

Emily Wood, producer from Evolution Productions, said: "It has almost been a two year thing for various reasons and it is great to say it is finally coming together and everyone is very excited to have an audience in the theatre – to put it on and get the reaction of the audience is such an important part of pantomime. It is all worth it for that for that moment when the audience see it and enjoy it – particularly this year, because last year we were not able to do it and I think it has made everyone value and appreciate what it is and what it brings to people."

She said the cast were looking forward to sharing their work.

She said: "It is so exciting. The first day of rehearsals was so exciting, people were just so excited to be working again. The cast are delighted to be together, there are some familiar faces, it is a bit like getting the old gang back together and everyone is pulling together and it will be extremely exciting when we get the kids in tomorrow and we get to share it with people at last."

David Jack, Shropshire Council’s theatre services manager, said audiences are in for another treat.

He said: "It is brilliant. It is a great entertaining family show, lots of laughter, lots of fun, exactly what people expect from a Theatre Severn pantomime. It has all the ingredients, great songs, laughter and a great story. Peter Pan is a classic and it is a slight re-working – they have used a bit of artistic licence to adapt it to these Covid times, it is Peter Pan, but not as you might know it."

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