As a child, my grandparents took me to see the pantomime every festive season at the Cliffs Pavilion. It was such a highlight for me growing up and I looked forward to it each year. We used to get there extra early, have drinks in the bar area and buy the program each year. I have a folder of them all somewhere…
It was definitely one of those things that you don’t know how much you cherish until it is gone. Getting older, having my own children and the death of my lovely Nan sort of fizzled out our pantomime visits.
This year I wanted to ignite those memories again and take my Grandad back to the Cliffs Pavilion for a pantomime show, only this time with my husband and three daughters. I was thrilled when Southend Theatres helped make this dream a reality for us.
This year it is Robin Hood at the Cliffs Pavilion. One I’m sure we’ve seen in my twenty-something years. We had been invited to attend the Family Press Event which was really exciting.
Our journey from Kent to Southend in Essex was far from straight forward and quick. The panto was due to start at 7:15 pm so we was travelling straight from school and through the dreaded rush hour time. At one point we truly believed we wouldn’t make it in time for the show to start.
Thankfully, we made it with enough time to grab a McDonald’s dinner and get to the theatre early!
For those who don’t know, Cliffs Pavilion is along the seafront of Southend, technically in Westcliff-on-Sea. It’s up high on the cliffs with a gorgeous view of the Thames estuary.
We arrived at night time and glass windows were covered in gorgeous sparkly Christmas lights. The Christmas tree was huge too so the entire venue felt so festive. I wish Christmas decorations were an all year thing, don’t you?
We met up with the wonderful team who were hosting us for the evening and then found our way to our seats.
When I was growing up my Nan and Grandad always booked the front row of the Balcony. Sometimes in the middle but usually to the sides. There was one year we had seats in a box which was exciting.
For our visit this year we had the excitement of being in the Stalls. We’d never experienced the stalls before. The seats are quite flat and the girls found it difficult to see past the adults in front despite hiring some booster seats. The balcony or rear stalls are staggered in height which I find easier when you have children, or are only 4ft 6in tall!
Robin Hood at the Cliffs Pavilion has some amazing stars in this year. The dance group, Diversity and Kev Orkian to name just a few.
I remember watching Diversity on the telly all those years ago and when they came out on stage, I suddenly felt that rush of emotions that I was watching this talented group live in front of me!
I obviously don’t want to spoil the show if you’ve booked or are planning to get to the theatre before the 4th January 2020, but let me tell you that the show is hilarious and so captivating.
During the interval, we met back up with the team in the restaurant area at the top of the Cliffs Pavilion venue. We had been able to order interval drinks which was a lovely treat and a really great opportunity to escape the crowds with the girls.
The second half of the performance was equally as entertaining. I kept looking over at all three of my girls and seeing their happy faces laughing and booing the entire time. In fact it was a huge delight to see Freya smiling as she hardly interacts with things like this due to her autism.
After the performance we had been invited back up to the restaurant to meet the cast of the show. It was a really relaxed atmosphere where they would be celebrating the show rather than being available for interviews. It was sort of like we was having dinner with friends type of thing.
It was quite late at this point, the girls had starting getting a bit ratty. So we decided to have a quick drink, meet Ashley Banjo and Kev Orkian for some photos. They were both so lovely!
Everyone had gone from the Cliffs when we made our way to the car, so we had a great opportunity to grab a family photo. The entire evening felt so nostalgic. My Grandad enjoyed himself so much too, although he did say “I don’t remember Robin Hood having a person riding a bat”.
The Robin Hood performance at the Cliffs Pavilion is running until 4th January so you’ve still got time to grab a last minute Christmas gift or just to enjoy a Panto this festive season. It was one of the best pantos I’ve seen and I’m so thrilled we had the opportunity to experience it once again with my Grandad.
Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.