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Stamford Arts Centre venue manager Phil Norton brings back panto to town with Christmas time performance of Mother Goose





It may seem like summer has barely got underway but thoughts are already turning to Christmas.

Professional pantomime is making a return to Stamford … oh yes it is … and preparations are underway for a Christmas time production of the classic Mother Goose.

It is being adapted by Stamford Arts Centre’s venue manager and professional pantomime director, Phil Norton.

Mother Goose cast members Victoria Fallow-Norton, Hannah Peacock, Phil Norton and Simon Aylin
Mother Goose cast members Victoria Fallow-Norton, Hannah Peacock, Phil Norton and Simon Aylin

Phil, who first got a job at the arts centre on his 16th birthday, took up the venue manager post last year and was immediately inundated with questions about bringing back professional panto to Stamford after a number of years without a show.

The 37-year-old said: “I knew if I were to bring it back it needed to be something special.

“Rather than just putting on a panto, it will be made in Stamford for Stamford.”

Artist Karen Neale and Phil Norton
Artist Karen Neale and Phil Norton

The set has been designed by Stamford artist Karen Neale, and includes a backdrop of the Meadows.

The script, which is ever-evolving right up to the performance, also includes local references including mention of the Rutland and Stamford Mercury, the radio station Rutland and Stamford Sound and The Pride of Stamford Litter Pickers as well as nods to businesses in the area.

For Phil, who has lived in Stamford most of his life, it is easy to come up with inspiration but there is pressure to do the town justice.

“I’m doing this for Stamford and will be putting in up-to-date references right up until the end of rehearsals,” he said.

Phil was part of the local theatre scene since he was three, performing with the Welland School of Dance, Stamford Pantomime Players, Stamford Amateur Musical Society, Tolethorpe Youth Drama and Stamford Shakespeare Company.

His career has taken him all over the country, both on and off stage. He started his acting career in pantomimes and classical literature shows before joining Polka Dot Theatre in 2018. He started as an actor and climbed the ranks from production assistant to assistant producer and eventually producer.

Phil also launched his own production company, Starbright Entertainments, in 2008 and toured for four years before settling to just one pantomime in Motherwell, Scotland.

Despite a sparkling resume, he’s described bringing panto back to his hometown as a special achievement.

He will also be starring in the performance by taking on the role of the Dame.

Mother Goose is one of the oldest pantomime stories and the only one to include the Dame as the main character

The pantomime tells the story of how Mother Goose is in danger of eviction when her fate changes at the discovery of magical golden eggs, and follows a battle between good and the temptation of evil.

Stamford’s production involves four other local cast members, Simon Aylin, Victoria Fallow-Norton, Hannah Peacock and Erin Billington.

Tickets are already on sale for the show which runs from December 19 to December 24.



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