For the past seven years, professional theatre company The Big Tiny have been making a West End quality pantomime in our theatre in Saddleworth. In the wake of the Oldham Coliseum closing, the Saddleworth panto is perfect for families in need of a panto fix.
And what a panto it is too!
In the last three years, The Big Tiny have been nominated for Best Script, Best Direction and Best Pantomime at the UK Pantomime Awards, as well as winning Best Newcomer.
“We don’t do celebs or gimmicks,” says producer Will Cousins. “We make traditional, laugh out loud panto, really well… and we make it with a lot of love.”
The Millgate Arts Centre in Delph might only seat 160 people, but everything about it, from the glitzy crystal chandeliers to the recently refurbed piano bar is absolutely gorgeous. “It’s a fantastic venue for a panto” explains Ian Shepherd. “The audience are so close to the actors, you feel like you are right in the middle of the action.”
All the sets and costumes are made at The Big Tiny workshops in Greater Manchester. “The show may be on a small stage, but the production values are enormous,” explains Will. Whether it’s a 17 foot tall giant for Jack and the Beanstalk or a real flying carpet for Aladdin, the Saddleworth show delivers all the same wow factors as the big city shows, but in a venue where the audience are only feet away from the action. Last year, one audience member said: ““The atmosphere is electric,” no wonder several papers have already named it “The best little panto in the country.”
Audiences going to see this year’s Rumpelstiltskin will recognise some familiar faces, including Tessa Vale from Horrible Histories and About A Boy alongside Saddleworth’s favourite Dame Dominic McChesney as Winnie the Warden.
Will explains “We’re lucky, because we make professional theatre all year round, we have some amazing contacts. Plus, everyone loves playing Saddleworth so much, they book out Christmas before they take any other work! This year, we’ve got the incredible Swedish musical theatre performer Kevin Mornas coming up to play the Prince and Michael Pellman (last year’s Aladdin) has come ashore from headlining a cruise ship show just to so he can be back in Saddleworth for Christmas.”
“We just love Saddleworth,” says director Ben Richards. “The venue is amazing, and the audience are so up for it! Every year we make the show bigger, spanglier and more preposterous and every year we have to put on more shows to meet demand. It’s a show with a lot of heart, made for people that love to laugh and be entertained.”
We have a lot of those people in Saddleworth… we’ll see you all this Christmas.
Rumplestilskin runs from 9th-31st December at Millgate Arts Centre in Delph.
Book tickets on line or by phone 01457 874674