SANTA COMES TO THE RESCUE AT BELGRADE
While the Belgrade annual panto is going online this year, if a trip to the theatre is part of your family’s annual festive traditions, you needn’t miss out this year thanks to a series of socially distanced shows and screenings taking place throughout the month.
As well as screenings of Jack and the Beanstalk Online on selected days in December, the Belgrade Theatre is also hosting live performances of Santa’s Christmas Rescue, the latest in Imagine Theatre’s interactive Santa series aimed at kids aged 2-7.
Like the pantomime, Santa’s Christmas Rescue is written by a veteran children’s entertainer Iain Lauchlan, who will also be appearing in the show as Father Christmas himself. Best known to local audiences as the Belgrade’s regular panto writer, director and Dame, Iain has worked for over 40 years on family productions for the stage and screen, creating the BAFTA-winning series The Tweenies, as well as working on a number of popular TV titles including Playschool, Playdays, Fingermouse and Fun Song Factory.
It’s almost Christmas and Santa, Ellie and Rudolph are all ready for the big day: the workshop is decorated, the presents are all wrapped and the sleigh is set to fly. But before they can get going, Ellie and Rudolph must go on a mission to rescue Santa who has got himself stuck in the snow!
Running at around 35-40 minutes long, this Christmas cracker of a show is filled with familiar songs, laughter and lots of festive fun, and will end with a gift for every child to take away.
Normally performed on the Belgrade’s B2 Stage and followed by a meet and greet with Santa, the show has this year been adapted for the Main Stage to comply with covid safety guidelines, including the introduction of a live “Santa Cam” allowing children to speak to Santa and Ellie the Elf contact-free.
Other safety measures will include distanced seating, staggered entry times and regular cleaning throughout the day. Face coverings must be worn by all audience members over the age of 11 – festive face masks are particularly encouraged!
Contingency plans have also been prepared for if the show is unable to take place in person due to government restrictions. If live performances cannot take place, those who’ve booked will be offered the option of watching a recorded version of the show, which is currently being created by the Imagine Theatre team. Bookers who are no longer able to attend in person due to illness or covid-related reasons will also be offered the opportunity to watch at home.
Steve Boden, Managing Director of Imagine Theatre said: “As pantomime producers, we are gutted not to be able to deliver the traditional Christmas pantomime for families this year. But we know how important live entertainment is both not only theatres and audiences but for the many actors and technicians who haven’t been able to work this year.
“So we felt it was incumbent upon us to try to get some live theatre on stage this season. This production of Santa’s Christmas Rescue promises to be a fantastic little production perfect for youngsters first introduction to theatre and for family bubbles who want to enjoy the magic of Christmas with Santa.”
There’ll be even more festive fun for families to look forward to with screenings of a brand new film adaptation of A Christmas Carol on Fri 4 Dec. Directed by Jacqui and David Morris, this stunning retelling of Dickens’ classic tale is performed by a stellar cast including Martin Freeman, Carey Mulligan, Simon Russell Beale, David Kaluuya, Andy Serkis, Sîan Phillips and Leslie Caron.
Santa’s Christmas Rescue runs at the Belgrade Theatre from 10-24 December with a filmed version available if in-person performances cannot take place. A Christmas Carol will be screened at 2.30pm and 7pm on Fri 4 Dec.