Rapunzel (Abigail Middleton) enthrals her audience – photo © Julian Swainson

The Garage on Chapelfield North is a pleasant and cosy venue that is particularly welcoming to young children and the adults they are looking after. The ‘My First’ series of Pantos and other productions its aimed squarely at the very youngest theatregoers and gives a safe and stimulating environment within which they can enjoy the charming shows that the Garage crew produce.

Children are given comfy cushions and are made to feel that they are part of the show, with frequent calls for them to help the actors solve a mystery or two. There is no ‘shushing’ or ‘stop that’ as the little ones explore this new environment.

The success of these shows owes a lot to the carefully chosen actors, who are all cheerful and smiley but also well trained in how to deal positively with children, however unpredictable. This show has a cast of three. Abigail Middleton plays both young Rapunzel and her mother, Stewart McCheyne doubles as Rapunzel’s dad and the Prince who falls in love with Rapunzel, while Emily Panes is the wicked witch Dame Gothel. All three are great, they all sing and play numerous instruments and keep the attention of even the tiniest of audience members. The story may be traditional, but the language and attitudes in the show are contemporary, so for example Rapunzel takes no nonsense from The Prince when he sets out to woo her.

The show is a comfortable length of just under an hour, so even the most unsettled tot will sit through it without protesting more than normal! There are thrills and spills but it is all carefully worked out to keep the children happy and focused, with nothing too scary happening. With many daytime shows over the next few weeks this show offers a perfect break from fighting your way round the shops with your brood in cold and wet weather. It will give your children a very pleasant way to learn the conventions of theatre and pantomime at an age when they are most receptive. The Garage also has a rather nice cafe attached for before and after show treats if you are in the mood.

This friendly little venue always sees me leave with a broad smile. The quality of the performances is as good as many on the big stage a few doors down. If you have small children make this part of your Christmas routine. If you don’t, then just borrow some and go along and share their delight as the fairytale story unfolds. With 88 performances scheduled you can be sure that you will find the right time to enjoy this delightful First Panto.

© Julian Swainson 2019

Please see the table below for times and dates. To book and for more information please go to: http://www.thegarage.org.uk/event/my-first-panto-rapunzel