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Tonbridge's EM Forster Theatre to stage panto Robin Hood and his Socially-Distanced Merry Men this Christnas

The show will go on at one of Kent's theatres this Christmas as panto is staged - but not as you know it.

Wicked Productions will present Robin Hood and his Socially-Distanced Merry Men at the EM Forster Theatre in Tonbridge , as an alternative to the scheduled show, Beauty and the Beast, which has been postponed to next year.

Wicked Productions will stage Robin Hood at the EM Forster Theatre in Tonbridge
Wicked Productions will stage Robin Hood at the EM Forster Theatre in Tonbridge

From Friday, December 18 to Sunday, January 3, the two-week show will be performed in the EM Forster auditorium, which allows for safe audience social distancing in bubbles and family groups, by a cast who will maintain social distance from each other throughout the rehearsal and performance process - as well as a few who live together.

Tom Swift, from Wicked Productions, said: "We have managed to create a show which keeps audiences, and everyone on stage and backstage, safe. In fact, it has allowed us to introduce hilarious elements into the production because of the need to maintain the romance despite the social restrictions.

"The cast we have managed to get together are all so brilliantly talented and have been hugely supportive to make this happen."

Tom Swift of Wicked Productions
Tom Swift of Wicked Productions

Theatre manager Kat Portman Smith said: "We have a fantastic partnership with Wicked Productions and have delighted thousands of people over the last four years with our Christmas pantomime. This year more than ever we are looking forward to welcoming audiences safely back to the theatre for a very special show."

The family festive show will still be packed with slapstick and jokes, and lashings of traditional panto magic.

Deep in the heart of his foreboding castle, the dastardly Sheriff of Nottingham is living the high life by taxing the poor, whilst imprisoning brave Maid Marian. But the Sheriff underestimated hero Robin, who will emerge from Sherwood Forest to rescue his fair maiden Marian and recoup the gold to return to the poor. Can Robin save the day with a little help from his band of Merry Folk?

The BBC's My Family star Michael Fenton Stevens and Tom Swift return to play Dame Tuck and Silly Willy Scarlett alongside Tonbridge favourites Ed Wright as the Sheriff of Nottingham and Amanda Swift, making a return as Maid Marian.

David Young returns as Little John and making his Tonbridge debut, from CBBC’s Andy and the Odd Socks, will be Stewart McCheyne in the lead role of Robin.

Tickets for the shows are £19 and go on general sale on Saturday, September 12.

To book, when they go on sale, go to emftheatre.com

* Other pantos designed for a socially-distanced age which are set to go ahead in the county so far are Jack and the Beanstalk at the Stag Theatre in Sevenoaks and Rapunzel at the Woodville in Gravesend.

For more entertainments new across Kent click here.

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