Get your ticket now and be ready to cheer and hiss all the usual suspects in ‘Beauty and the Beast.’
Yes they’re back for another season of laughs, slapstick, audience participation and the unforgettable Dame. Everything we’ve come to love and expect of the great British panto and no company does it better than Jordan Productions, the high quality pantomime producers staging no less than 7 pantos across the country this year. The company is of course responsible for bringing ‘Beauty and the Beast’ to the Chatham Central Theatre. Word has it that a high tech revolving stage alongside the starry cast of Sue Holderness from ‘Only Fools and Horses’ , X Factor funny man Stevi Ritchie and Michael Nielson will rivet audiences with their hilarious, fun packed performances. In between rehearsals on the opening night, Diversity Business Magazine managed to steal a few moments with the company’s Associate Producer, Tim Sitwell to ask how his team manages to recreate the magic every year and keep audiences literally cheering for more.
It’s an interesting concept and business model to focus only on putting on pantomimes. Is this your main emphasis and how did you come across the idea?
About eight years ago Chris Jordan, the Managing Director, witnessed growing audiences for pantomimes in Eastbourne where he established the company and started producing two shows a year. Spotting a gap in the market, we decided to invest in the company’s infrastructure adding a new venue each year to the point where we are now producing seven shows in different venues in Kettering, Stevenage, Kings Lynn, Fareham, Potters Bar and Chatham. It’s a challenge but we are seeing growing audiences in all the venues so it’s certainly paying off. We also stage shows in the summer season. Previously we have toured‘ Gotta Sing, Gotta Dance’ which pays homage to all the great musicals as well as a national tour of ‘The Last of The Summer Wine’.
It’s also great that you use local talent in all the productions and give young people outside London the opportunity to experience a professional production.
We are always keen to work with the venues and local communities to try and maintain a distinct local flavour of each of the shows. We like to encourage ownership of the product, otherwise we would be just rolling into town putting on a show much like any other and risk losing a connection with audiences. We recognise that involving local children and professionals generates interest and creates unique experiences. We also work with local professionals where we can, as long as they are good and can carry the performances. Our standards are always high because at the end of the day we are a professional company and we want people to return every year and spread their joy and feedback by word of mouth.
All the productions have very current and topical scripts. Who writes them and does every panto have an original script?
Chris Jordan writes all the scripts but of course all the stories are based on traditional stories that have been tried and tested. These are some of the greatest stories ever told. Chris makes them relevant to the communities by adding local references, ‘in jokes’ and pop songs to keep the productions fresh. We pride ourselves on providing traditional pantomimes for modern audiences. We are always adding to our repertoire, this year we will be a brand new script of Peter Pan.
The panto is great family entertainment and for many, it is their only experience of theatre. Why do you think the tradition has lasted?
Most theatre managers would recognise that the pantomime is the most important show in the life and fabric of the theatre. The income the pantomime generates can subsidize other less profitable shows. Often the pantomime is the first or only experience of theatre for many audiences who then get interested to see shows on offer in their local theatre. The pantomime breaks down barriers for people who may have notions that the theatre is elitist or that you may have to dress in a certain way to get through the doors. All of those vanish once they experience a panto as it is entertainment that works on all levels. It is for all ages and all family members from Mums, Dads, Grannies to the youngest members. Parents know they are getting good value for money when they get their tickets and enjoy a bit of pantomime magic.
Finally what secrets or surprises can we expect from this year’s production of Beauty and the Beast?
Our shows are known for their great visual quality and high production values. This year we have invested in a revolving set which will bring the stage closer to the audience. It has been specially designed for Chatham Central Theatre setting up the scene for next years’ production. But we are relying on the usual ingredients of great comedy – we have a scene involving breaking china plates guaranteed to have everyone in stitches, vibrant costumes and plenty of laughs and audience participation. Just good family entertainment which we hope will have audiences coming back for more, time and time again.
For tickets for Beauty and the Beast contact: Medway Box Office on 01634 338338
You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org
For more about Jordan Productions visit: www.jordanproductionsltd.co.uk/