From bubbles and stunning LED lighting to wonderful costumes fit for a princess (or an evil queen!) our Little Mermaid pantomime really is a production of imagination and wonder.
When it splashes onto the Butlin's stage for the first time this February half term, mermaid Pearl will take you on a magical journey as she finds her sea legs in search of her happily ever after.
We want you to be as excited about our pantomime as we are, so we caught up with some of the people who have made it happen, and how they've brought it to life from script writing and costume design to special effects.
The famous fairy tale has been adapted by Jon Monie, actor and script writer, who's well known in the industry having performed in many pantomimes across his career. We stopped Jon to find out a bit more about why he choose to work with us on this adaption of The Little Mermaid:
I’m an actor and writer with a long-established connection to the Theatre Royal in Bath where I have performed as the comic over 1,000 times across 18 pantomime seasons – I’ve played every village idiot going! I recently wrote a new version of ‘Beauty and The Beast’ which won Best Script at the Great British Pantomime Awards 2019.
How does the Little Mermaid at Butlin’s differ to other pantomimes you’ve worked on?
The Little Mermaid is a new to me – I’ve never seen it done as a pantomime before. However, the story is perfect for a panto adaptation; a thrilling love story, relatable characters, and the timeless battle between good and evil. Plus the fact that it is set under the sea allows for wonderful costumes and effects.
Tell us a bit about the writing process and how you take such a well known story and adapt it for panto?
The Butlin's team gave me a list of characters and a breakdown of the story they wanted. I just had to fill in the gaps! I tried to give the underwater characters a bit of depth (pun fully intended) and fill the script with jokes.
What can Butlin’s guests expect from The Little Mermaid?
Fun for all the family; great songs, a wonderful story and, of course, gags galore!
Why should guests come and see this panto?
I don’t think many people will have seen The Little Mermaid done as a panto before. Even though the original fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen was first published back in 1837, the story still feels fresh and relevant. Add in the panto ingredients of songs, slapstick and silliness and you’ve got a great show!
Tell us, what’s your favourite panto?
My favourite panto is always the next one! I’m about to start work on a new Cinderella script. I’m also very excited to come and see The Little Mermaid at Butlin's! ...Oh yes I am!
Jon Monie isn't the only famous name we're working with the make The Little Mermaid a production like never before. Special effects duo The Twins FX, who have also won an award at the Great British Pantomime awards, worked up the incredible special effects you'll see in the show. They've used many of the same concepts and designs that were used on previous pantos at the London Palladium.
Musical Director Steve Etherington worked with our session singers to deliver an eclectic mix of upbeat music to bring the story to life. Think guitar, saxophone, trumpets and trombones; all live instruments guaranteed to make you feel the beat of the underwater world!
Phil Peacock, our Creative Manager and Show Producer, made a model of the set which is to scale, so it can be copied and made 25 times bigger! Hidden within it will be the latest LED lighting, while The Character Shop in Birmingham produced the CGI backdrops for the LED screens which include the incredible animated underwater sequences.
To find out more about Phil's role, we asked him a few quick questions:
I’ve been creating shows for Butlin's for over ten years and within the last six years I have been producing our pantomimes. My background and training is set and costume design, so I always try and push the boundaries producing shows with different looks and feels to excite our guests.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
The best bit about my job is sitting amongst the audience and hearing and seeing their reaction to something I have created. There is no better reward than hearing laughter and applause or boos at the baddie!
How do you decide which panto to do each year?
Each year I put together several different proposals of what I think our guests would like to see, which I then present to the rest of the Entertainment Team. As a group we decide which one would best compliment the rest of the shows our guests can enjoy.
How long does the process take to pull together a panto?
About ten months!
How do you add the Butlin’s magic to the panto every year?
Each year we collaborate with industry professionals who can offer their expert knowledge and skills to help create something special. Our in-house team of technicians, stage managers, crew, wardrobe team and performers work and rehearse tirelessly to make the production as slick as possible – giving our shows that ‘Butlin's magic'.
What’s it like working with industry giants such as Jon Monie and The Twins FX?
We want to work with the best in the business so we can create something spectacular for our guests, as well the Twins FX and Jon our great script writer and special effects supplier, we’ve also called upon a fantastic music producer, musicians, session singers, CGI creators, costume designer and expert costume makers, set builders, prop makers, wig makers, lighting designer, director and choreographer, and of course we’ve been auditioning up and down the country to bring our guests a great cast of talented performers.
What’s your favourite pantomime?
For me, it's Aladdin!