Celebs here, there, everywhere

Having already welcomed Brendan Cole and Tony Hadley through our doors, yesterday was another star-studded day in Neverland. Vernon Kay and Tess Daly came along with their family, and Strictly champion Flavia Cacace joined us with partner Jimi Mistry to support People’s Champion, (and ex-dance partner) our lovely Russell Grant!

Being the partyboy that he is, Russell saw this as the perfect opportunity for a party in pantoland! He sorted out the most fabulous personalised balloons and there were nibbles galore – a fitting welcome for the newly-crowned Strictly winner.

 Flavia's balloon

After numerous pictures with Russell’s Peter Pan family – (including some particularly starstruck young dance members!), Flavia went to see her Rusty in action. So what did she think?! Judging by the huge smile on her face as she cheered Russell at the curtain call, we think it’s safe to say she was suitably impressed and deservingly proud!

Congratulations to Flavia from the Waterside Team – and thank you for choreographing the dance routine performed live in the show by Russell! He is SAMBA!

Russell Grant, Flavia Cacace and Jimi Mistry

To Florence With Love

There is no time like the present to wish our nominated charity and friends at Florence Nightingale Hospice a very Merry Christmas. They are tireless in thinking up fundraising ideas and implementing much-needed services to help make things that little be easier for patients and families going through difficult times.

So how can we thank them this Christmas… by sprinkling a touch of panto magic!

Our panto stars have been out in force this week spreading Christmas cheer and doing their best to raise much-needed pennies for our charity. On Sunday our Wendy, the little lady with the HUGE voice (aka Holly Brewer) serenaded hundreds after our matinee performance of Peter Pan. Belting out Mariah Carey’s ‘All I Want For Christmas is You’; you couldn’t help but sway along and feel like Christmas was imminent!

Holly Singing

She was not alone in meeting the masses, Pirate pals (David Bridges and Jobe Potter) also took to the theatre’s public realm ready to meet and greet those young and old who’d turned out to support Florence’s Carols at Christmas. And they had an absolute ball!!! For clumsy pirates they scrubbed up quite well and succeeded in signing numerous programmes before dancing their boots off with new chums. (Well done to Wendy for not being put off by two highly excitable pirates jumping around to their fav Christmas track!)

Pirate autographs

Pirates and chums!

Jobe Dancing

Then Monday saw Hook and Smee visiting the Florence Nightingale Day Hospice to meet the patients, draw their enormous Christmas raffle and chomp on very tasty pineapple and cheese sticks!

Hospice Visit Hospice1

It was great for Hook to see some new faces; his pirate crew are quite a tiresome bunch when trapped on the Jolly Roger with them 24/7. It was a breath of fresh air! Even Smee – who usually don’t like straying more than an inch from his worthy master wandered off and made new friends.

Smee and friend

The raffle was drawn (with difficulty thanks to Hook’s hook), and winners received money, luxury spa breaks, afternoon tea and many other prizes. At one point we thought Hook had delved in beyond the point of return!

Hook delDrawing Raffle

Exclusive gossip: Smee became particularly smitten with one of the hospice volunteers. We think it’s because he’s partial to a tasty pineapple stick – and she dished them out like nobody’s business!
It was difficult dragging Smee away from his new found friend, but after plenty of hugging, dancing and general tomfoolery we could entice him away.

hospice 5 Hospice 4 hospice 3pINEAPPLE STIX

 

All of our post-show bucket collections are in aid of Florence Nightingale Hospice, so if you’re joining us in Neverland this Christmas please spare some change and help us to help a very worthy cause.

Florence Nightingale Hospice Charity

Every Little Hooks!

 

Today saw the Jolly Roger anchor up outside Tesco Broadfields in Aylesbury. Captain Hook and sidekick Smee embarked on a crash course in customer services as they were trained to be checkout assistants!

 

The masses of Christmas shoppers cleared the way as the dreaded Captain Hook pushed through the trolleys and baskets to start his intensive training course in cashiering. Thanks to his Pirate Manager he was put through his paces, and by hook or by crook, he picked it up quite quickly! His trainer was very impressed with his scanning skills, and ability to hook even the most awkard of items (including a large bag of unwieldy potatoes and an expensive bottle of bubbly!)

 Hook in training

Smee was a little more difficult to train. Unlike Hook, Smee is feeling far more festive and as a result had the concentration span of a Lost Boy at Christmas! Anything and everything in the gift aisle was distracting him.  Having chased him out from the toys and sweets, he then took it upon himself to find a festive friend to frolic with. We later caught him canoodling with an Elf in the Christmas corner! Shoppers looking for poinsettias and mistletoe would have been rather shocked…

 Smee's Elf Friend

We eventually rounded Smee up, and on the proviso his Elf friend could visit him in Neverland, he agreed to concentrate for five minutes. It’s difficult finding a job well-suited to a clumsy shipmate who only has experience in polishing his master’s hook. He’s too mucky to be on the fresh fish counter, too clumsy to be in the cutlery department and far too partial to a drop of rum to be on the spirits and wine aisle! It was agreed our Smee would be best-suited to playing shopping packer – and he did a mighty fine job!

Smee happy packing 

All in all it was a very successful trip. Massive thanks to the pirate-tastic staff at Tesco Broadfields for entering into the pirate spirit. Enjoy your visit to Neverland tonight!

Tesco Pirate Staff

 

 

A Touchtastic Day in Neverland

Today saw our visually impaired and blind customers taking full advantage of our Touch Tour and Audio Described service. The aim of the service is to enable those with difficulty seeing, to have the opportunity to visualise the performance and experience pantomime as intended – as a fully interactive, lively show full of glitzy costumes, beautiful scene changes and magical props and special effects.

 

To make sure the production comes to life, we offer customers the opportunity to go on a Touch Tour which takes place both onstage and in our backstage corridor. As you can see, Nana wasn’t the only canine chum backstage this afternoon – we had two beautiful guide dogs with us too!

 Guide Dog Backstage

On the stage guests can feel the props and with the help of our Audience Describer, Amanda, they are talked through each of the props and when they make an appearance on stage. The backstage corridor is home to many glitzy costumes, sparkling headdresses and finely combed wigs. It’s invaluable to our visually impaired guests to be able to feel such garments and items so that they can imagine textures and sparkle on stage.

 Touch Tour

Of course, not only wigs and costumes are housed backstage – our guests encountered Hook’s nemesis, the Croc too! With his bumpy, scaly skin and smooth textured tail, Mr Croc proved very popular on the Touch Tour – we just hope they stayed clear of his gnashers!

 Touch Tour -  Croc

The Audio Described performance followed the touch tour, with Amanda talking through all the onstage action via infra-red headsets. Judging by the reaction of our guests on leaving, the Audio Described show succeeded in enabling them to get the most out of the performance – even the Guide Dogs’ tails  left wagging!

For more information on our access performance contact johncoughlan@theambassadors.com

Sunny Saturday with Smee

 With only 10 more sleeps to go until Christmas we thought it was only fair to let Hook’s loveable sidekick Smee jump ship from the Jolly Roger for a daytrip to the fair town of Buckingham! He was on a mission – a mission to spot the festive float with the one and only Father Christmas on it! To say Smee was excited is an understatement!

As he eagerly awaited the arrival of the main man himself, he sipped on the ultimate poison for pirate…RUM, I hear you cry…? No, Smee is far more partial to an Earl Grey with lemon! He can’t be getting tipsy before a 2 show day.

Smee Enjoys a Cup of Earl Grey

Whilst waiting for the float with Mr Claus, Smee enjoyed looking round the various stalls and markets lining the streets of Buckingham. From fruit and veg, to cakes and honey, army supplies(!) and festive wreaths – the stalls had everything! Smee bumped in to the venue’s Ticketing Manager who was out and about spreading the word of Neverland with Peter Pan goodies for all. Good work David! The streets were lined with pirate hats and flags galore!

Flags Ahoy!

Never one to miss out on the opportunity to make friends, Smee got talking to plenty of panto-pals – young and old. He was particularly thrilled to meet the town’s important figures – not least because they were wearing more gold than the entire contents of the Jolly Roger’s treasure chest.

Smee's New Friends

Peter Pan and Wendy have also been out and about this morning. They had great fun at Aylesbury Library reading the story of Peter Pan to the boys and girls. They were a delightful bunch – Peter would love to recruit them as fellow lost boys and girls! Thanks to all for coming along, we hope you enjoyed the fairytale story and get to see live on stage.

Library Storytime

Peter Pan is LIVE!

First day has arrived!! Peter Pan is LIVE onstage as we speak!!!! This year’s swashbuckling Christmas pantomime has launched!! !

So what better way to spend the few hours before the show earlier than taking our very own ‘Polly Christmas’ (our theatre administrator!) out and about with her trolley of treats!

Polly Christmas!

 First to be Polly Christmas’d was our Roger the Cabin Boy aka Russell Grant! His dressing room is now loaded with flowers and a hamper of goodies to see him through the run. And as for Polly, it’s fair to say this was Christmas come early for her; getting to meet her fav Strictly legend.

 Polly Christmas meets Russell

The goodies continued to flow as our angel Polly presented a hamper to Heart FM’s Matt Brown (aka Pirate Starkey), before she shimmied on down into quite possibly the most sassy dressing room backstage, home to our gorgeous Divas and stunning Tigerlilly – enjoy your fizz girls!

 Divas, Tigerlilly and Polly Christmas

We expect Peter to be flying higher than ever for today’s opening shows with his bag full of sweet treats. (We hope your dentist doesn’t mind Adam!)

 Polly and Peter!

Then as Polly Christmas ventured further backstage we found Holly Brewer’s dressing room and contributed to her sensational stash of good luck gifts. Who’s a lucky girl then Wendy?!!

 Wendy's Good Luck Gifts

Hoorah (or should we say hooAARRRGGH!) we’ve finally set sail to Neverland! Break a leg guys and HUGE thanks to Helen Comerford who’s doing a sterling job looking after our beautiful cast as Company Manager!

Groomed, rehearsed and ready to roll into Neverland!

Russell’s been trimmed by top hair stylist to the stars (including Fearne Cotton and Geri Halliwell!), Nana’s been groomed by local fur specialist, Wendy’s been dusting the nursery, Smee has polished his specs and Peter’s been flying high… it means only one thing, the opening of this year’s magical panto Peter Pan is just one sleep away!!!

 

 Today has been a corker! With one dress rehearsal under their belts and the second underway as we speak, our scenes are being polished and perfected meaning you’re on for one Hook of show this Christmas!

 SPOILER ALERT!!!! Do not read the below if you crave surprises!

 We can confirm there is

  •  Flying
  •  Fire
  •  Dancing
  • Diva-tastic motown hits
  • THE 12 Days of Christmas routine! Back due to popular demand and revamped for more laughs per minute than a clown on laughing gas!

 Keep your eyes peeled for a special panto prop edition of local newspaper The Bucks Herald too!

With panto energy being burned left, right and centre (quite literally!), it’s important our dynamic Divas and partying Pirates keep their strength up. We can confirm the most popular dish of the day here at the Waterside Cafe was the roast beef and horseradish coleslaw baguette! Yum! Another recommendation courtesy of none other than our razzle-dazzling Russell Grant, is the Christmas pudding sundae – a MUST for anyone feeling festive (and not counting the calories!)

 Christmas Pudding Sundae

So tomorrow the swashbuckling madness begins! Our foyer’s decorated and stocked full of flashing wands, glowing gloves and tasty treats.

We look forward to seeing you for what’s set to be a very special Christmas in Neverland…

Christmas Mantlepiece