TICKETS for pantos can sometimes be as rare as Christmas thank-you letters, so it is wise to get your own act together and book now to avoid tears and tantrums.
Some like their pantos on the less spectacular side and with an absence of TV stars and innuendo. Others like them brimming with glitz and glamour, the stage sprinkled with recognisable telly-faces and with saucy jokes that have gran chuckling into her chocolate drops.
Standing proud in the former category of home-grown family entertainment is the ever-trustworthy Salisbury Playhouse pantomime, which this year is Dick Whittington and His Cat.
The same creative team is behind it as for last year's hit, Sleeping Beauty.
It is already proving so popular (8,000 tickets were sold before the end of September) that an extra week has been added to the run. It continues until Saturday 11th January.
Tickets from the box office on 01722 320333 or go to www.salisburyplayhouse.com.
TWO of the stars of Jack and the Beanstalk, playing at Lighthouse, Poole's Centre for the Arts, live locally.
Actress, comedian, impressionist and singer Debra Stephenson (Coronation Street, The Impressions Show, Spooks, Midsomer Murders), who plays Jack, and RNT and RSC actor Patrick O'Kane (The Borgias, Game of Thrones), who plays the villainous Fleshcreep, say they are enjoying the rare chance to rehearse and be with their families.
It runs until Sunday 5th January. Tickets and information 0844 406 8666 or www.lighthousepoole.co.uk.
NOT a panto but definitely for children high on the idea of Christmas, the Studio at Lighthouse offers a magical entertainment based on the classic poem, The Night Before Christmas.
The production is ideal for three- to seven-year-olds, who will be in the thrall of experienced actors from the Big Wooden Horse Theatre Company as they interpret the delightful poem written in 1822 by the American, Clement Clarke Moore.
It runs until 24th December. Tickets and information 0844 406 8666 www.lighthousepoole.co.uk
THE Tivoli Theatre at Wimborne has Aladdin, the lad who anxiously rubs the magic lamp in the hope the Genie will come and help him out of a fix. Let's hope it works again, as Bobby Bennett, Paul Ewen and Jonas Cemm star, with Rachael Owens and Wimborne's own Louise Morgan lending glamour. Talented local young performers will play the dancers and villagers.
Spectacular sets, beautiful costumes and an amusing script make this a panto that's sure to go down well with all the family.
The run is from 20th December to 5th January. Tickets and information 01202 885566 www.tivoliwimborne.co.uk.
THE Pavilion Theatre, Weymouth, has Cinderella, with Juliette Longworth-Dean in the title role and Steve Ritchie as Buttons and Nicky Stevens as the Fairy Godmother. It runs from Thursday 12th December to Sunday 5th January. Tickets and information 01305 783225 www.weymouthpavilion.com.
AUDIENCES are assured of being sent home on the crest of a wave of happiness after seeing Treasure Island, a family pantomime staged by the award-winning Highcliffe Charity Players at the Regent Centre, Christchurch.
All sorts of madcap silliness abounds in this intriguing adaptation, which has Treasure Island meeting Robinson Crusoe. There's intrigue, tension, much merriment and, thank goodness, the vital involvement of a Fairy Godmother to ensure a happy ending.
Treasure Island runs from 15th to 24th January. Tickets and information 01202 499199 www.regentcentre.co.uk.