Fun Facts – What It Takes To Bring Panto Magically To Life At The Alhambra Theatre!

Image by Nigel Hillier

Yorkshire’s biggest family pantomime, SLEEPING BEAUTY, opened in December 2021 to standing ovations and glowing reviews, and will run until Sunday 16 January at the Alhambra Theatre in Bradford.

This year’s festive production is led by Alhambra Theatre pantomime legend Billy Pearce and TV doctor and presenter Dr Ranj. They are joined by talented musical theatre performers: Liz Ewing, Brogan McFarlane, Sabrina Aloueche and Sarah Goggin.

In order to deliver this “spectacular show, beautifully directed by Ed Curtis” (Telegraph & Argus), which was “…so colourful, glitzy and eye-popping…” ON Magazine, there is an army of backstage people, production crew and venue staff who work tirelessly during rehearsals and every performance to bring this magical show to life. Here’s a peek behind the scenes into what audiences might not know:

  • 18 Alhambra Theatre crew built the panto set & lighting in 3 days taking 531 working hours to do it
  • 10 Alhambra Theatre crew work on the panto each day. They had 3 days’ rehearsals before the opening performance, rehearsing for 330 hours between them
  • 170 lights were rigged / hung to light the production; and 54 flying bars are used to hang all the pieces of set for the show (set pieces weigh between 50kg to 450kg)
  • To control all the effects on stage there are 7,171 channels used on the control desk. This does not include the lighting (a standard theatre light uses one channel)
  • 31 pyros (special stage fireworks) are used per show, that’s 1,953 over the run
  • A cloth called the Forest Gauze is flown in or out 12 times during the performance; by the end of the run it will have been flown 732 times, not including how often it was flown during rehearsals
  • The Deputy Stage Manager says “Go” 334 times in the show, giving lighting, pyros, sound, flying system and the crew their cues
  • If you went to Tesco and bought everything in Billy’s shopping cart it would come to £62.97 (this was with Clubcard discounts!)
  • This year the stage floor has been printed and not painted, which gives it a different look. A special liquid called “Slip No More” is used to wash the stage, to make sure that no one slips
  • There are 3 secret cast members in this year’s panto, who play the two snowmen and the ‘old hag’ and they never take a curtain call!
  • The dancers showcase 552 costume items with nearly 400 poppers (all hand sewn in), to facilitate the total of 89 individual quick changes they make!
  • 102 tickets for the pantomime were sold on Christmas Day
  • So far, the Kiosk has sold 5,555 bags of confectionary (1,299 of which were fruit pastilles) and 2,090 bottles of water. In total, that’s approximately 694kg of chocolate and sweets!
  • 3,796 items of merchandise have been sold. The most popular item – the swivel fan – is now out of stock having sold 1,442 units!
  • The two reindeer used to pull santa’s sleigh in the show eat a special diet of Yorkshire puddings and parkin…. This helps them fly safely above the audience!

The annual Alhambra Theatre pantomime brings together the work of over 30 technical and production staff, 20 performers and musicians. Plus, there are up to an additional 160 venue staff, including food & beverage, box office, cleaning, front of house and stage-door teams, who work to ensure the venue is ready to open its doors to the public during the run of pantomime.

Sleeping Beauty – Alhambra Theatre, Bradford
Ends Sunday 16 January 2022
Relaxed Performance – Tuesday 11 January 2022 at 6pm
Tickets: from £16.50 (inclusive of booking fees)
Call the Box Office on 01274 432000 or visit bradford-theatres.co.uk
“.. one of the most spectacular ever at The Alhambra.” Yorkshire Post 5/5
“Sleeping Beauty pays tribute to the traditions of panto, with plenty of knockabout fun, while embracing the technical wizardry of modern theatre, with some awesome special effects.” Telegraph and Argus

While restrictions have been eased, please remember to follow the latest COVID-19 guidelines in order to enjoy these events in a safe and responsible manner.