Whats On

PUBLISHED: 08:45 08 March 2010 | UPDATED: 15:37 20 February 2013

Aladdin - Wyvern Theatre, Swindon - 5 December - 4 January

Aladdin - Wyvern Theatre, Swindon - 5 December - 4 January

A brief look at what's on in the way of music and performance over the next couple of months, including Wiltshire's Panto season.

It's that time of year when grown men and women revert back to their childhood for a couple of crazy hours at their local pantomime. They're still as popular as ever, with their cross-dressing antics and barely controlled mayhem on stage, which actually harks back, in part, to the pre-Christmas (and pre-Christian) era. The modern-day pantomime is a distillation of the old Roman Saturnalia antics, medieval Mummers' Plays and the Restoration Harlequin tradition from the Italian Commedia dell Arte. All of those original traditions have been practically forgotten, although their spirit has been kept alive through theatre.

The modern-day panto derives from Victorian days, when music hall stars were a big draw, and showbiz stars, past and present, continue to provide the draw today. Ostensibly a Christmas treat for children, panto has its adult adherents and is, quite possibly, the only time in the year when they actually set foot in a theatre. Swindon and Salisbury are where the big pantos and Christmas shows are, but keep an eye out for your local amateur dramatic group, who may well put on their own show.

5 December

Black Voices

Listen to the rich and powerful harmonies of the UK's leading female a cappella quintet.

Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford on Avon

(01225) 860100

5 December

Lifeache - Jeff Green

Award-winning comedian Jeff Green is one of the brightest talents of the British comedy scene.

The Arts Centre, Old Town, Swindon (01793) 614837

6 December

Chippenham Cantata

A cornucopia of music by Bach, Handel, Rachmaninov, William Lloyd Webber, Mendelssohn, Rutter and others, with Advent carols.

St Andrew's Church, Chippenham (01249) 665970

10-11 December


Wiltshire College Trowbridge's Student Company present a musical version of Alice Through the Looking Glass.

Arc Theatre, Trowbridge (0845) 299 0476

18 December

Salsa Night

Experience the joy of salsa. No experience or partners necessary!

Arc Theatre, Trowbridge (0845) 299 0476

10 January

Miles Remembered

A jazz concert dedicated to the memory of Miles Kington (1941-2008), humourist and jazz critic.

Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford on Avon

(01225) 860100

Wyvern Theatre, Swindon

5 December - 4 January


Trusty old Aladdin will be rubbing his magic lamp at Wyvern Theatre in Swindon over the coming pantomime season. Billed as 'Swindon's Biggest Ever Pantomime', it stars Shaun Williamson from Eastenders as the wicked magician Abanazar, and a cast of children recruited locally. But upstaging all the cast is likely to be the technical wizardry and special effects, with a 3D genie taking top billing alongside Shaun. With the aid of special 3D goggles the genie will come to life and move about the theatre. You can see the magic lamp appear in front of your eyes for a virtual rub, and the stage will come to life with amazing 3D illusions, including a ride on the magic carpet!

The pantomime is supported by a special exhibition that celebrates genies, witches and magical materials through the ages.

Box Office (01793) 524481, www.wyverntheatre.org.uk

15 December

Peter Panties and Windy: Adult Pantomime

Not one for the children this time! Set in the stylish and outlandish atmosphere of Noel Coward's gay and witty London, this all-naughty version of JM Barrie's Peter Pan is full of sexual innuendo, mistaken identity and confusion.

(01793) 524481

Salisbury Playhouse, Salisbury

3 December - 3 January

Dick Whittington and his Cat

Salisbury Playhouse's panto stays within the bounds of tradition with its production of Dick Whittington and his Cat, reintroducing all the old favourite characters including Tommy the Cat, pretty bride-to-be Alice, the evil King Rat and the magical Fairy Bow-Bells, not forgetting the outrageous dame, Sarah the Cook, played by Alan McMahon.

Box Office (01722) 320333, www.salisburyplayhouse.com

Local groups staging their own productions over the season: Arc Theatre, Trowbridge, is staging what is now a traditional Christmas Special, an improvised pantomime by Instant Wit, where the audience suggests the theme for a panto and the cast improvise it (18 December). There will also be a more traditional take on Cinderella by the Trowbridge Players (14-24 January 2009).

Whilst not strictly a pantomime, Willy Russell's hilarious One for the Road (11-13 December) will be staged by the Old Town Theatre company at Swindon, www.swindonweb.com/ottc.

The Arts Centre in Swindon's Old Town are also staging Scrooge - The Musical (24 December - 3 January 2009).

Jack and The Beanstalk makes an appearance at Codford, performed by the Woolstore Country Theatre (www.woolstoretheatre.co.uk) on 4 December, and at Hindon Church (8 January), presented by Friends of Hindon Church (www.Friendsofhindonchurch.com).

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