It’s Panto Season in Suffolk – Oh yes it is!
The festivities are nearly upon us which means pantomime season is coming! Across the county there are some fantastic theatres and halls where you’ll find a whole host of pantomimes from traditional storylines and a few quirks!
Pantomimes are great fun for all ages, young and old, to kick back and relax whether it’s leading up to the big Christmas rush or just afterwards. This year there are some fantastic pantomimes taking place so if you’re looking to attend one, keep reading and discover some of the best theatres and shows in Suffolk.
Pantomime: Beauty and the Beast
Where: Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds
Dates: Kicking off from December 2nd and finishing January 15th
About the venue: The Theatre Royal is a historic Grade I listed building dating back to 1819. It is the last surviving Regency playhouse and the only theatre within the National Trusts property portfolio. The Theatre Royal is an extremely popular theatre with shows taking place throughout the year. The Theatre also hosts occasional tours providing visitors a unique opportunity to learn more about the theatre and its fascinating history.
Pantomime: Beauty and the Beast
Where: The Marina Theatre, Lowestoft
Dates: From December 13th and finishing New Year’s Day
About the venue: The Marina Theatre is a popular venue for a variation of shows including live entertainment and cinema showings. In the 1870s this fascinating building was originally a roller skating rink. The owners decided to add a stage and thus renamed the building ‘The Rink Theatre’. In 1897 ‘The Rink’ was converted into The Marina. In more recent years The Marina was purchased by Waveney District Council a mere 24 hours before a demolition plan was to be underway! Here The Marina underwent a renovation and although the future of the theatre has been under scrutiny over the years, today it hosts a wide range of events such as west end shows, cinema screenings and pantomimes.
Pantomime: Jack and the Beanstalk
Where: The Seagull Theatre, Pakefield (Lowestoft)
Dates: From December 14th and finishing Christmas Eve
About the venue: The Seagull Theatre is located in Pakefield, a small village just before the seaside town of Lowestoft. The building, which used to be home to a school, was converted into an arts centre in the 1960s and was run by Suffolk County Council. It was subsequently bought by a local individual and it became known as ‘The Seagull’. The Seagull Theatre is mainly run by a group of volunteers in a small team and is known as the community hub of arts. This theatre plays host to a wide range of entertainment including live music, pantomimes, shows, quizzes and more.
Pantomime: Treasure Island
Where: The Quay Theatre, Sudbury
Dates: From December 16th and finishing New Year’s Day
About the venue: The Quay Theatre dates back to 1791 where it was known as the Sudbury Warehouse ‘Great Granary’ for the River Stour Navigation Company. The company went into liquidation in 1913 and the building was being used for building equipment storage such as bulldozers and cement mixers. In 1977 the Sudbury Dramatic Society purchased the property and the project began into converting the building into a theatre. Today the theatre is one of the towns showpieces and attracts visitors from far and wide with live entertainment, shows and cinema screenings.
Pantomime: Sleeping Beauty
Where: Ipswich Regent Theatre
Dates: From December 17th and finishing January 2nd
About the venue: This Grade II listed building which began in 1929 is the largest theatre in the county. The Ipswich Regent Theatre (formerly known as The Gaumont) attracts many guests with its plentiful offering of music concerts and shows. During the war the theatre was used for concerts and ballet and over the years has seen many big names performing.
Pantomime: Robin Hood
Where: The Fisher Theatre, Bungay
Dates: From December 19th and finishing January 2nd
About the venue: The Fisher Theatre was first opened back in 1828 and was designed by David Fisher giving the theatre its name. This Suffolk theatre is rich in history and you really get a feel of what life was like for those fortunate enough to visit the theatre. Then in 1844 the theatre was sold where it became the town hall and a venue for meetings, then Bungay’s first cinema, followed by a steam laundry and finally a textile warehouse. In 1995 local residents appealed for a building to be used as an arts centre so the attention soon fell on the Georgian building. Today the theatre is bustling with many different shows and there is also a license for weddings and civil ceremonies.
Where: Spa Pavillion, Felixstowe
Dates: From December 19th and finishing January 3rd
About the venue: This iconic Felixstowe venue is brimming with history. It was originally known as ‘The New Floral Hall’ back in 1909 but soon became known as the Spa Pavilion. In the 1930s The Spa Pavilion was renovated and extended throughout and re-opened as a large theatre and music hall in 1939. Like so many buildings in Suffolk the building was destroyed by the bombing in the war, meaning another renovation project took place before it was able to re-open in 1950. Whilst the Spa Pavilion re-opened over a considerable amount of years the Spa Pavilion closed again in 2013 following a decline. New owners bought the building and it was yet again re-opened in 2015. Today The Spa Pavilion plays host to a number of events including conferences, events, parties, musicals and shows. With its stunning outlook on the beachfront it is an extremely popular venue.
Where: Beccles Public Hall, Beccles
Dates: From December 23rd and finishing New Year’s Day
About the venue: The Beccles Public Hall dates back to 1785 when the Corporation of Beccles Fen decided that the building of a public room as an assembly room and a playhouse would encourage people to move to the town. The architect of the Assembly Room was Thomas Fulcher, who was born in 1737 and lived in Ipswich who was known for some of his inventions used at Ickworth. The hall was used for a variety of occasions such as a theatre, assemblies, a dancing school, a place for the Masons to play cards, a tea room to name a few. The building has changed appearance over the years since the original build. Today the hall is used for a range of events held by the town including pantomimes, shows, quizzes and more.
Where: St Edmunds Hall, Southwold
Dates: January 22nd – January 29th
About the venue: St Edmunds Hall is located within the heart of Southwold and has been in operation since the 1930s. In the 1940s the hall was badly damage by a bomb which meant the hall needed to undergo a renovation in the 1950s. The hall plays a key part in Southwold with displays of shows, pantomimes, stalls and music events. Located in Cumberland Road, St Edmunds Hall is central to all locations and provides on-street parking outside. Inside there is a foyer leading to the great hall with small kitchen at the side.