More than 3,000 knitted fish are ready to play their part in the Georgian Theatre Royal’s festive production of Pinocchio which opens on today.
For over a decade, the theatre has invited the public to knit for its now legendary pantomime and in recent years audiences have enthusiastically thrown all manner of objects onto the stage from apples and bananas to hearts and doughnuts.
Some knitted items have also been used in other imaginative ways, such as the giant patchwork blanket that covered the audience during Sleeping Beauty in 2018.
When it came to Pinocchio, the request went out for knitted fish and over the past few weeks a record number of items have arrived at the Theatre from all over the UK.
“We have always had a brilliant response to our knitting appeals but the number of fish to swim our way has surpassed all previous years,” said pantomime writer and director Clare Allen.
“A huge thanks to all those who have donated these beautiful creations. They really are integral to the show and those who come along to the production will see just how important a part they play,” she added.
Leading this year’s cast is Nick O’ Connor as the Dame – Mrs Gepetto.
Nick is no stranger to the Georgian’s pantomimes and made his debut as the Richmond Dame in last year’s production of Beauty and the Beast. Before that, he was the ne’er do well uncle, Abanazar in Aladdin; the unhinged evil fairy Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty and Elvis the ‘not so cowardly’ lion in The Wizard of Oz.
Another familiar face is Marcus Jones in the title role. In the 2021 production of Beauty and the Beast, he played George Michael lookalike George Gaston for which he was nominated Pantomime’s Best Newcomer in the prestigious UK Pantomime Awards – panto’s equivalent of the Oscars.
He is joined by Ben Andrew as the baddie Stromboli Jones, best known to Richmond audiences as the Beast from last year’s show.
A new face to panto but not the Richmond stage is Sarah Boulter as the Blue Fairy and Laurence Fox. Sarah fell in love with the Georgian Theatre earlier this year when she performed on its historic stage as Gwendolen in a touring production of The Importance of Being Earnest.
Completing the line-up is Liam McGrath as Mickity Crickety who is looking forward to adding this pantomime to previous festive productions of Rapunzel and Sleeping Beauty.
Taking up the baton of musical director this year is Rachel Blaquiere, a German-born pianist and composer who is looking forward to her first foray into the British pantomime tradition. Rachel is joined by fellow musician and accomplished drummer and teacher Martin James.
The chorus is made up of three groups of talented young performers from the Georgian Theatre Royal Youth Theatre that have become a mainstay of this popular family-style of pantomime.
Pinocchio runs from Friday 2 December 2022 until Sunday 8 January 2023.
Tickets are priced from £13 and are available from the Box Office on 01748 825252 or via the online booking service on the theatre’s website at www.georgiantheatreroyal.co.uk