Saturday, 21 May 2022

Panto stars say it’s good to be back again (oh yes, it is)

Panto stars say it’s good to be back again (oh yes, it is)

A COUPLE who became engaged while appearing in pantomime at the Kenton Theatre in Henley are returning once more.

James Tobias and Rochelle Parry, co-founders of Immersion Theatre, will be staging Aladdin during December this year.

The couple previously put on Robin Hood in 2017 and Dick Whittington in 2018 and also starred in the New Street venue’s first three professional pantomimes from 2012 to 2014.

They even got engaged during the production of Peter Pan in
2015 when Mr Tobias played
Captain Hook and Miss Parry was Tinkerbell.

Mr Tobias, 35, who made his professional debut at the Kenton in 2009 in a production of Make Believe the Musical, said they wanted to return because of their fond memories of previous shows.

He said: “We’ve done the panto here before and we have a lot of history with the Kenton and Henley and we love it an awful lot. So when the opportunity to do it again came up, it was a no-brainer.

“We were ecstatic when we got the job. We want to make it the biggest panto that Henley has seen yet.

“I’ve got such amazing memories of Dick Whittington. During that show the audience were just screaming. Henley has a reputation for being this posh little town but once they are in one of our pantos people are stomping their feet and singing along.”

Miss Parry, also 35, said: “It’s amazing to get the opportunity to come back. It feels like nothing has changed but at the same time like we’ve got more energy. We can’t wait to jump into it.

“The Henley audience are so awesome. They are so up for it and the energy from them is so amazing — there’s nothing like it.”

The pair, who live in Bedfordshire with their two-year-old husky-collie cross Skylar and two cats, founded their production company in 2010. They performed in Aladdin at the Kenton in 2013 as the titular character and the genie when the show was directed by Heather Simpkin, of Bear in the Air Productions.

Miss Parry, 35, said the pair had come “full circle” from performing the show to staging it.

Mr Tobias, 35, said: “It was a joint decision to choose Aladdin as it’s a popular title and we wanted to come back with a bang and Aladdin allows us the opportunity to do that.

“I’ve written the script already so I’m now making it specific to Henley as I know the sense of humour. My other teasers are a magic carpet, lots of slosh and tons of local references.

“Our style is very high energy and humour across the board and I’ve made a conscious effort to make sure that’s the case.

“I’d hate for parents to bring their kids and for them to spend the time on their phones or taking a snooze, so it’s not a responsibility we can take lightly. We have to put in 110 per cent because it can make or break a family’s Christmas.”

Miss Parry added: “There will be a lot of glitter — James loves glitter and confetti and special effects and many, many costume changes.”

Mr Tobias will be directing the show and Miss Parry will be designing the costumes and set.

The pair will hold auditions and casting in May before starting rehearsals in November.

The couple will also be at the theatre on Saturday, April 9 for their production of The Wind in the Willows.

Mr Tobias said: “People will recognise a couple of faces in that who will be in the panto too.”

Aladdin will be performed from Saturday, December 10 until the end of the month. Tickets are available from the box office on (01491) 525050 or visit

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