Panto fever at the Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch

The cast of Sleeping Beauty

The cast of Sleeping Beauty - Credit: Mark Sepple

Pantomimes have been ingrained as part of our Christmas traditions for as long as anyone can remember.

This year is no different at the Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch who invite you to enjoy the magical tale of Sleeping Beauty with all the traditional hallmarks of a classic panto.

Follow brave young Tom Clutterbuck on his thrilling quest through the Enchanted Forest to rescue the beautiful Princess Aurora.

It’s a story of good verses evil as two fairies battle one another to ensure the young man triumphs and saves the sleeping beauty from her terrible cursed slumber.

Claire Storey, who is taking on the wicked role of Carabosse the bad fairy, said: “I prefer a good traditional panto with a goodie and a baddie and this is the first time I have ever been evil.

“It’s been a bit of ambition of mine and I hope to get the chance to grab it by both fangs.”

When she isn’t on stage Claire will be sitting down in the pit playing some of the bespoke songs written for the show by Carol Sloman on her saxophone.

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The Queen’s resident theatre company Cut to the Chase... prides itself on the role of the actor musician so every actor will also be playing the music when they are not performing on stage.

Thomas Sutcliffe, who will be pleasing the crowds with his portrayal of Tom Clutterbuck shall join Claire on the saxophone while Megan Leigh Mason, playing Primrose the Good Fairy, shines on the guitar.

Rachel Dawson, who will grace the stage as the fatigued Princess Aurora, said: “I am asleep most of the show so I will be down in the pit playing the cello.

“I think having us all play the music as well really adds the extra dimension to it and it’s going to be a really good show.”

Supporting the Cut to the Chase... stars will be a young company of 24 talented school children from around Havering who will be singing, dancing and playing various roles in the panto following open auditions to cast them earlier this year.

Claire added: “There really is something for everyone in this show, a real family performance.”

For Megan, the Good Fairy, this is her first professional panto and she hopes to bring a little bit of that into her performance.

“I am making her traditional but with a bit of a spin,” she said.

“Primrose is just starting her first job as a fairy and really wants to live up to all the fairies who came before her.

“She isn’t quite as powerful as Carabosse but she is giving it her best.”

The victory of good over evil is a strong theme in pantomimes (oh yes it is!) and the battle between Primrose and her evil counterpart is almost an entire story line in itself.

While there are other traditional panto characters, such as the Dame, Nurse Nellie, played by Simon Jessop, there is also something new and unique in the Queen’s Theatre’s production.

An original script and bespoke songs ensure that this pantomime will be nothing like any you have seen before.

Sleeping Beauty runs from November 29 to January 10 at the theatre in Billet Lane, Hornchurch. Tickets start at £12.50 and can booked on 01708 443333 or at

Audio described and sign language interpreted performances run on Saturday January 3 at 2pm and Wednesday January 7 at 7pm.