Pantomime magic at work in Beccles studio
- Credit: James Bass
From the outside, it looks like any other hangar on a nondescript industrial estate.
But walk inside studio one on the Ellough Industrial Estate and it is pure pantomime magic.
The team at Scenic Projects are among the biggest stage scenery hire companies in the country, and this year will be designing the set for the Norwich Theatre Royal pantomime and Jack in the Beanstalk at Beccles’s Public Hall.
Managing director Nick Garrod said: “This is the first professional pantomime Beccles has put on, and as we’re based in Beccles we wanted to support it.”
A vibrant back cloth has been designed to grace the Public Hall’s stage, and the company will be leasing out other scenery to bring the pantomime to life, including the all-important beanstalk.
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But one of Scenic Projects’ biggest tasks this year is creating the scenery for Snow White at the Norwich Theatre Royal.
“We normally meet with the production team in January, and this year Snow White is going to have a Bavarian theme,” said Mr Garrod. “It’s something the Norwich Theatre Royal has created, art director Stephen Wilson has visualised and it has been built specifically to what Norwich requires.”
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Mr Wilson said: “They’ve provided a short breakdown of the scenes and there’s a little description which establishes the setting and gives you any key bits, like ‘we must have a staircase’.
“This time they asked for apples on all the shutters, but other than that it’s left very much to me, and in a way that’s exactly how I work.”
He comes up with artistic impressions of how the scenery will look, and then the team gets to work on making the vision a reality. And the result is an enormous snowy scene, which will soon be folded up and shipped to Norwich along with the rest of the bespoke scenery, and a few pieces to surprise audiences.
Scenic Projects has been working with the Theatre Royal for the last six years, and started off by supplying a single scene, before taking over full scenery production the following year.
Mr Garrod said: “We’ve built up a fairly big stock of really good quality sets, we have a choice of about 50 or 60.
“People come and say ‘we like that set but we want to change that scenery’, so every year, every pantomime is almost bespokely put together.”
•Jack and the Beanstalk runs at the Beccles Public Hall from December 26 to January 2. To book call 01502 770060. Snow White runs at the Norwich Theatre Royal from December 15 to January 17. To book call 01603 630000.