Theatre buzzing as panto excitement gathers pace

Shelley Stevens, wardrobe for Sleeping Beauty
Shelley Stevens, wardrobe for Sleeping Beauty

The countdown to pantomime is officially with the cast and creative team in town and rehearsing for the show.

Sleeping Beauty opens at the Devonshire Park Theatre, on Thursday, December 13 - so it’s just a few sleeps until it opens!

This year’s show stars Bernie Nolan. fresh from her national tour in Chicago as Mama Morton; Eastbourne’s own resident comic Tucker, as Chester the Jester; and Martyn Knight, returning for his ninth consecutive Eastbourne pantomime as the South’s most outrageous Dame.

Martyn’s costumes as Nellie Night Nurse prove to be a particularly challenging and enjoyable part of the Wardrobe Designers job. Shelley Stevens, who has worked on Eastbourne pantomimes for nine years, normally starts designing the costumes in April.

For this year’s show, with the exception of just two costumes, Shelley (right) designed and made, with the help of her assistant Sam Hart, all the outfits that will be worn on stage, a staggering 90 costumes!

That’s a lot of material, with an average Dame’s outfit using anywhere from between six to 20 metres of fabric in just one dress! It takes Shelley around one week to create a Dame’s costume.

Pantomime is a particular highlight in the theatre calendar, and with the show created especially for Eastbourne the whole theatre complex becomes a buzzing hive of activity, with props being made in the Floral Hall, and the Devonshire Park Halls becoming rehearsal spaces.

Sleeping Beauty is packed with surprises which the theatres are keeping firmly under their nightcaps. The show runs December 13 to January 13, and tickets priced from £11 available from the box office (01323 412000) or online