Over 70 performers audition for panto

On Sunday 18th June over 70 people auditioned to be part of this years pantomime at the Rhodes. The day consisted of dance auditions, drama workshops, as well as lead role auditions in the afternoon. By the end of the day 20 talented young performers were cast to be part of our Junior Chorus. The  Junior Chorus will perform in 22 shows each from December to January, and the ensemble is made up of ages 7 to 16. Some senior chorus were also cast to be part of the ensemble and these actors will also be considered for the roles of the Seven Dwarfs.








DSC_8018The day ended with the auditions for the Principal Parts. This saw older performers sing and read for the parts of Snow White, Muddles, The Prince and The Queen’s Henchman. After this stage, Phoenix cast the young actress Abbie Middleton the title role of “Snow White”. Abbie appeared as Maria in Phoenix’s 2014 production of West Side Story and Phoenix look forward to working with her again this year. This was the only lead part cast on the day and more information will follow regarding the castings of the other principal characters.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs runs from the 9th December 2017 to the 6th January 2018.
It is shaping up to be the biggest pantomime the Rhodes has seen, and will be a fun-filled production for all ages!
For more information and to book online, click here.

9500 more people can now successfully ‘Lean and Dab’

Following the consistent success of the annual Phoenix Pantomimes, this year’s Cinderella completely smashed Box Office records, becoming the largest selling show in the history of the Rhodes! With the Company’s reputation, along with the introduction of ‘motion posters’ The Rhodes convinced 9500 audience members to attend during the 40-show period, watching the magic unfold through, song, dance, slapstick comedy and enchanting puppetry.

“Why on earth anyone would go elsewhere when we have this talent in Bishops Stortford”- Toni Elford

IMG_6025_DxO © Acabashi Malvern HostickThe cast featured many current and ex-Phoenix students, one of which was Georgia Collins who played the Principle girl for the third time running this year. Alongside her was; Joseph Vianna as Buttons, teaching everyone to ‘lean and dab’, as well as Buck Braithwaite playing Prince Charming in his Rhodes debut. Charming’s sidekick, Drew Gregg as Dandini entertained with his constant enthusiasm, whilst Ugly sisters, Daniel Boulton and George Jack, kept everyone laughing with their childish brawls. Not forgetting Phil Dale who took on the role of the petrifying Principle of the ‘Hard Up school of Dance’ and Wicked Stepmother.

On receiving overwhelming amounts of positive feedback, Phil explained “We were so pleased with the response from audiences spanning such a huge age range. It really seemed that our production of Cinderella, proved to be proper entertainment for the entire family. The puppets proved to be a big hit- as always, and we are already planning on how they can be incorporated into next year’s production of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.”

IMG_6481_DxO © Acabashi Malvern Hostick

It’s obvious when reading through reviews that it wasn’t just one reason why this year’s pantomime directed by Phil Dale and Stevie Doherty was so well received. With a “cast…as always, brimming with enthusiasm and flair and overflowing with confidence”, “a healthy dollop of innuendo” and “special effects…well beyond what you might expect” – (Muddy Stilettos), numerous factors made Cinderella such a hit.

The spectacular set, made by Malvern Holstick looked beautiful against costumes designed by Jules dale, while lighting designer Rob Dyer, only enhanced this with his ideas and ambition. The brand-new laser equipment impressed everyone bringing a new dimension to the ballroom scene, giving it a real current energy. Aiding this- and improving year by year- was the flawless choreography by Katie Barker-Dale which was so vibrant and up to date, in order to match the diverse music that was mixed and edited seamlessly by Ross Simpson.

“The scene at the palace was epic.  I can honestly say that I think it’s probably like no ball scene you’ve ever seen — like none I’ve ever seen, certainly.” – Muddy Stilettos

IMG_6140_DxO © Acabashi Malvern HostickDespite all the special effects, including the reveal of the white sports car that would take Cinders to the ball, the younger audience members were captivated by the mice puppets that appeared to help Cinderella! The chorus brought the puppets to life to create a magical image that was such a hit with younger family members. Being such a success, we hope to bring this enchanting aspect to next year’s Pantomime in an even more spectacular fashion!


For pictures and full reviews of Cinderella, see below.

Click here for pictures

Muddy Stilettos Review

Auditions for Cinderella Sunday 10th July 2016

This December, at the Rhodes Arts Complex, Phoenix Theatre Arts will be producing the largest scale Pantomime ever performed at the Bishop’s Stortford venue.

Cinderella 2016 will feature a brand new False Pros which will replace the one that has been used for the last 6 years. Built bespoke for the Rhodes Venue, the new False Pros has been designed and painted by Malvern Hostick who will also return to paint the set for Cinderella. Phoenix are already full speed ahead with Cinderella. Set designs, music ideas and trying to re-imagine the classic story of Cinderella are all part of the action currently happening at Phoenix. We want Cinderella 2016 to stand out not only from the previous Phoenix iteration, but from every other version of the tale.

“With tradition at its core, Phoenix Theatre Arts enhances its reputation with this seasonal gem” – The Stage (Jack and the Beanstalk 2015)

The audition details have been released on the Phoenix Website which will give all the information. On Sunday 10th July there are open auditions for the production. Phoenix are not only looking for a large chorus of both Junior and Senior age, but a collection of principal characters ranging from Ugly Sisters and Buttons, to the titular character herself. We are looking to cast a strong group of older boys and girls to be part of the senior chorus to play a variety of characters and be part of big song and dance numbers.

The production will run from the 10th December 2016 to 7th January 2017 with weekly rehearsals running approximately 10 weeks before the opening night. This means we are looking for the most committed and passionate people to be in our production, from the smallest Junior Chorus member, to the oldest principal.

We hope to see as many people as we can auditioning on Sunday 10th July to make this year’s Pantomime, Cinderella, the biggest and best one yet!

Click here for more information.

“The musical set pieces are quite brilliantly staged, alive with clever parodies and some truly splendid original songs” – The Stage (Dick Whittington 2014)

January 18, 2016

The Show Must Grow On!

by phoenixdrew

in Productions,Rhodes Pantomime

Jack and the Beanstalk is a triumph!

The annual Rhodes pantomime, produced by Phoenix Theatre Arts, returned with a record breaking bang that shattered the sales records held by previous pantomimes.  With an exuberent ensemble working together to bring the magical tale of Jack and the Beanstalk to life, the result was a fun and wonderful show praised through feedback and in the numbers that flocked to see the production.

“With tradition at its core, Phoenix Theatre Arts enhances its reputation with this seasonal gem” – The Stage

It’s a colourful, energetic and pacey affair, with costumes (especially), set designs, lighting and special effects, music and choreography gelling to form an eye- and ear-pleasing whole” – Herts and Essex Observer

Phoenix Student, Katie Miller, helmed the lead role as an energetic Jack that never lost hope in what he was trying to achieve. With former Phoenix Student Georgia Collins as Jack’s love interest, Jill, the pair created a heart-warming scenario of love and rescue. The magical story was introduced by Fairy Evangeline Rainpetal, played by Phoenix Youth Theatre Creative Director Jeanne Stacey, who captured the imagination of the audience. Phoenix Director Phil Dale returned as the somewhat hairy dame with the new name Milky Mary providing barrels of laughs for both adults and children alike. Phoenix member William Edden was the bundle of energy that was Milky Mary’s son, Silly Billy; providing a compassionate and energetic friend to the audience. Vocal tutor Duncan Rutherford returned as the panto villain, dropping the Russian accent of last year’s Ratputin, and donning the well spoken, rather flamboyant, persona of Baron Backhander. The bumbling comics, Wingnut and Spanners, were played by Daniel Boulton and panto favourite, Dan James, respectively; providing slapstick humour to make you laugh and occasionally wince. Praise must also go to first time Panto cast member George Jack, who was part of the senior ensemble, the puppeteer for Titch, the Giant’s midget son and provided the voice for our hero’s fearsome antagonist, the Giant. George also played Daisy the Cow with Phoenix Student Drew Gregg, who also provided the voice for multiple puppets including the Scottish chicken ‘Goose’. These vibrant characters were supported by a Junior and Senior ensemble made up mostly with students from the Phoenix Theatre School, so praise must also go to them.

Anna Stamper, who designed the set for the beautiful production of Peter Pan, returned as the set designer for Jack and the Beanstalk and yet again our eyes were treated. When the lights revealed the UV paint on the village set and the well that the Beanstalk grew from, the magic appeared before the audience’s eyes’.

The show was lit by Rob Dyer, who also provided a video sequence for the Beanstalk growing, one that brought Stamper’s work to life and extended it to magical heights. The script was written by Phil Dale and Conor O’Sullivan, and Phoenix Primary Drama Tutor Connor Linden wrote both the original and parody songs in the production. The choreographer, Katie Barker-Dale, provided superb choreography that both showcased the performers on stage and their incredible variety of costumes designed by Jules Dale. Directed by both Phil Dale and Jeanne Stacey Jack and the Beanstalk was both a critical and box office smash!

To read all the reviews for the production, see the links below:

The Stage, Herts and Essex Observer, Muddy Stilettos, Anne at the Theatre.

To see pictures from  the show, click here.

Big turnout for this year’s pantomime auditions!

Following on from the success of the previous Rhodes Pantomimes, the Phoenix production team has set their sights on raising the bar even higher this year with Dick Whittington. The part of Dick will be played by former Phoenix student and tutor Amy Moulder, who last appeared on the Rhodes stage as Nancy in Oliver! Other familiar returning faces are Phoenix tutor Grace Wheeler, who took the title roles in last year’s Aladdin and Cinderella the year before that, and will be playing the part of the Good Fairy, and former Phoenix tutor Connor Linden, who once again returns to play the audience’s friend Idle Jack. Georgia Collins will play Dick’s love interest Alice Fitzwarren, and Jack Downey will play her father, Fitzwarren. Phoenix Musical Theatre tutor, and the Musical Director of Aladdin, Duncan Rutherford will be on stage this year playing King Ratputin. Phoenix Principal Phil Dale has decided to cast off his villainous ways for this year and play the Dame, Sarah the Cook. Last but by no means least Sunanda Biswas, a lindy hop and breakdance artist, who helped choreograph the Olympics opening ceremony for London 2o12, will be making her Rhodes debut as Dick’s cool cat companion.

In addition to these stellar principal characters, there was once again a huge turnout for those wanting to be cast in the junior and senior chorus, giving the production team their usual difficult job of who to select and who to reject. As always, everyone who turned up to audition really gave it their all, and showed great effort, but unfortunately not everyone can be cast. Eventually, just 20 junior age performers (two teams of 10) were selected to be the junior chorus teams. They will perform alongside 8 senior chorus members over the age 0f 16 (4 boys and 4 girls). To those who came but didn’t make it in, don’t give up and keep trying!

Rehearsals will start for the chorus members in October and the show opens to local schools on Thursday 11th December.

You can like the Rhodes Pantomime Page Here

You can book tickets online here

April 18, 2014

Stan Laurel’s London Marathon Achievement

Phoenix Stage Veteran takes on Magnificent Challenge Dan James rose to the challenge of a lifetime recently when he completed the London Marathon in a time of 6 hours and 57 minutes. Dan, who has taken a lead role in the last 4 Rhodes pantomimes as well as playing the part of Stan Laurel on […]

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January 20, 2014

Aladdin at the Rhodes

Phoenix Theatre Arts smash Box Office records once again! Christmas time at the Rhodes can mean only one thing, that once again it’s time to plunge into pantomime land! This time to tell the magical story of Aladdin, as he encounters evil sorcerers, beautiful princesses, and wise-cracking genie’s. After the successes of the past few […]

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