# Top topics

culture outdoors green spaces

2024 panto tickets on sale following an outstanding year for Chelmsford Theatre

Snow White Ad

Tickets for Chelmsford Theatre’s 2024 panto – Snow White – are now on sale following the acclaimed five-week run of Jack and the Beanstalk. The successful 2023 panto tops out an outstanding year for the theatre.

Five-star Jack and the Beanstalk praised by critics and audiences

Jack and the Beanstalk entire cast in costume on main stage
The cast of Jack and the Beanstalk on the main stage at Chelmsford Theatre.

Chelmsford Theatre’s 2023 pantomime delighted families with the giant fairy tale, Jack and the Beanstalk. The show presented a charming storyline packed with topical jokes, colourful costumes, and the latest music hits.

Co-produced in house by Chelmsford Theatre alongside One From The Heart, this year’s production was a hit with critics. Southend Theatre Scene awarded the show five stars, while Ovation Radio dubbed it “a non-stop festive treat from start to finish”.

The theatre’s pantos are well known for their strong overall casting, rather than relying on a single star name, and 2023 was no different with critics commending cast members’ “wonderful energy” and “comical essence”.

Members of the public were equally enthralled by the triumphant show, laughing, singing, and booing along with the cast. Audience feedback praised the show’s playful silliness, with some declaring it the “best panto” they’d seen yet:

“I haven't been to a panto for years & it was the best show I have been to!!! I laughed and laughed, the characters were fantastic, the set was brilliant, the jokes were terrible but hilarious!!! We will definitely be coming again, thank you for a fab night.”

“We all really loved the panto this year! It’s the best one we have seen so far! Great cast, loved the streamers and confetti. The theatre looks fab after the refurb too.”

“Having been to several Pantomimes at various different places, Chelmsford has always been the best and this year’s was the best one yet! All 9 of us loved it and I’m thinking about returning before it finishes! Cannot wait for next year! Thank you!”

The production attracted theatre goers from far and wide, with more than 26,500 visitors welcomed across 61 performances, including students from 42 local schools. This equates to 91% of tickets sold, making it Chelmsford Theatre’s bestselling panto yet.

Dame Trott and Queen Fussybutt standing back to back in 2023 panto
Dame Trott and Queen Fussybutt stand back to back on stage in Jack and the Beanstalk.

Another festive family show, the magical The Night Before Christmas, saw great success for the theatre. The sold-out studio production brought Christmas joy to families across 25 performances, with around 3,500 tickets sold.

An outstanding reopening year for Chelmsford Theatre

Jack and the Beanstalk’s success brings the curtain down on an outstanding year for Chelmsford Theatre.

The theatre reopened to the public in January 2023 following an extensive programme to refurbish its front of house spaces. The revamp transformed the tired theatre, giving customers a new ‘red carpet’ experience in Chelmsford with “a modern yet elegantly retro feel”.

Since reopening, the venue has been buzzing with energy. The number of shows received has increased significantly compared to previous years, including two sold-out West End shows – Agatha Christie’s Mousetrap and Bill Kenwright’s Blood Brothers. National comedy treasure, Romesh Ranganathan also brought his deadpan humour to the theatre in 2023, and Dreamcoat Stars saw four Josephs reunite on Chelmsford Theatre’s main stage.

Blood Brothers. Credit Jack Merriman
Bill Kenwright's Blood Brothers. Image by Jack Merriman.

Audience figures have also been strong since the revamp. More than 135,000 people were welcomed through the theatre doors in 2023, with over 40% of bookers purchasing for the first time. Spending on food and drink has also increased by 35% compared to previous years, and 98.5% of customers who completed post-show surveys said they would visit again.

Councillor Marie Goldman, Deputy Leader of Chelmsford City Council and Cabinet Member for a Connected Chelmsford, says the refurbishment programme has secured Chelmsford Theatre’s commercial viability:

“The refurbishment of Chelmsford Theatre has made such a difference. It has created a cultural community hub in the centre of Chelmsford, which is achieving a great mix of new and returning audiences. Our investment has made the venue much more commercially viable, protecting it for years to come. It bucks the current trend in the arts sector and recognises that the theatre is an important cultural venue which isn’t just a “nice to have” – it’s an essential part of community life, that both residents and visitors from further afield want to utilise.”

Councillor Marie Goldman, Deputy Leader of Chelmsford City Council and Cabinet Member for a Connected Chelmsford

A catalyst for further change across the theatre

On top of the refurbishment, in February 2023 the theatre launched its first ever membership loyalty scheme, which saw more than 450 customers sign up in the first year alone. The venue also opened its first daytime café and started work on an outreach and community programme to access more diverse audiences.

Theatre cafe with people  Photographer: Aaron Crowe.
Chelmsford Theatre's cafe opened in February 2023 and offers a range of hot and cold refreshments.

Theatre Director, Lee Henderson, says the theatre’s transformation wasn’t simply about updating the venue’s décor. It acted as a catalyst for further changes, including new programming, branding, and an improved customer experience:

“The refurbishment of Chelmsford Theatre has been a real catalyst for change for us. Not only did we get a beautifully revamped front of house for our theatre goers to enjoy, but we’ve worked hard to transform our programming, improve the customer experience, launch our new brand, and update our public profile. All of which has combined to present a cultural venue that is fit for our 21st-century audiences.

“It’s a real labour of love to produce our annual panto in house, and I’m so proud of what has been achieved by our team this festive season and indeed, throughout the last year since our reopening. I’m looking forward to seeing what 2024 brings for the theatre.”

Lee Henderson, Theatre Director, Chelmsford Theatre

Book your early bird tickets for Snow White 2024

The classic fairy tale Snow White comes to Chelmsford Theatre from Friday 29 November 2024 to Sunday 5 January 2025. Ticket prices are frozen in a special early bird offer until 31 January 2024. So, book your seats for the fairest pantomime in the land now to save up to £5 on peak prices.

While you patiently wait for panto season to arrive once again, Chelmsford Theatre has a varied programme of comedy, drama, and family shows planned for 2024. Upcoming shows include the return of Dinosaur Adventure Live, quirky mystery Locomotive for Murder, and an ‘in conversation’ event with the exceptional David Suchet. Be first in line to hear about everything coming to Chelmsford Theatre in 2024 by signing up to their mailing list and following them on Facebook and Instagram.

facebook twitter mail linkedin
Cherelle Nightingill
Cherelle Nightingill

Cherelle writes about Chelmsford Theatre, Hylands Estate, Chelmsford Museum, the Mayor of Chelmsford and culture and events in the city.