'Excited' pantomime characters help officially re-open Groundlings Theatre in Portsmouth

AN ARRAY of ‘excited’ fairytale characters are looking forward to welcoming audiences back to the Groundlings Theatre in the city for this year’s festive pantomime – as well as showing off the site’s ‘wonderful’ restoration.

Tuesday, 19th October 2021, 5:19 pm
Updated Tuesday, 19th October 2021, 5:19 pm

Panto season has now begun at the Portsea venue, with its volunteers, trustees and actors celebrating an official ribbon cutting ceremony by local ward councillors Kirsty Mellor and Cal Corkery today (October 19).

As part of regeneration works at the 18th century building, its facade has been updated, while the bar and flooring inside have been renewed.

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It's behind you! The cast of Beauty and The Beast celebrate at the official opening of the building's restored frontage, Groundlings Theatre, Kent St, Portsea. Cutting the ribbon are Cllr Kirsty Mellor and Cllr Cal Corkery, both of whom are ward councillors for the Charles Dickens ward. The actors are, from left, Megan Crawford, James Edge, Keith Myers, Phoebe Saunders, Adam Boyle and Alasdair Baker Picture: Chris Moorhouse (jpns 191021-12)

It comes in time for a new production of Beauty and the Beast, which will run from December 2 to January 2.

Helen Gibbs, chair of the Groundlings Theatre said: ‘It is so exciting. Last year we did a reduced Christmas show with a reduced cast for a shorter time and unfortunately because of more restrictions that came in we could only run for five performances.

‘And it’s especially exciting because we can now show the amazing restoration work that has been carried out thanks to Historic England as well as the restorations inside thanks to our wonderful volunteers who have worked so hard.

‘I know people will have heard the building is up for sale but we want to reassure them we have a lease on the building and will be here for many years to come.’

The cast of Beauty and The Beast launch their panto, Groundlings Theatre, Kent St, Portsea. The actors are, from left, Megan Crawford, James Edge, Keith Myers, Phoebe Saunders, Adam Boyle and Alasdair Baker Picture: Chris Moorhouse (jpns 191021-18)

Actor Keith Myers, who will be playing Dame Nancy in the show, said: ‘It’s going to be such a giggle. There will be lots of comedy, fabulous frocks of course and beautiful women and some handsome men as well.’

Baffins resident Phoebe Saunders will take on her first leading role as Beauty. ‘After Covid it’s just a great time for everyone to come together and what better time than Christmas,’ she said.

‘Beauty and the Beast is my favourite fairytale so I’m really looking forward to being a part of it.’

The cast of Beauty and The Beast celebrate at the official opening of the building's restored frontage, Groundlings Theatre, Kent St, Portsea. Cutting the ribbon are Cllr Kirsty Mellor and Cllr Cal Corkery, both of whom are ward councillors for the Charles Dickens ward. The actors are, from left, Megan Crawford, James Edge, Keith Myers, Phoebe Saunders, Adam Boyle and Alasdair Baker Picture: Chris Moorhouse (jpns 191021-11)

And Beast actor, James Edge, added: ‘People should come watch the show this year because we’ve got a fantastic cast , the theatre’s just been re-done and it is waiting and ready for a new audience to come and see what is sure to be a fantastic show.’

For tickets visit groundlings.co.uk.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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