IS the cast of the Wyvern Theatre’s pantomime ready for opening night? Oh yes it is!

Performers from Dick Whittington have been in rehearsals for a week in preparation for the show’s opening this evening and are ready to take the stage.

The cast is headed by Nigel Havers, star of stage and screen most recently remembered for his roles in Coronation Street and Downton Abbey.

“Rehearsals for this year’s pantomime at the Wyvern Theatre are going well,” said Nigel, who plays King Rat.

“Along with a team of local rats, I will be striking fear into Swindon audiences and I encourage all who see this year's spectacular show to boo as loudly as they can.”

Suzie Chard, who returns to the Wyvern to play Fairy Bowbells, said she was looking forward to the opening show.

“I’m thoroughly enjoying myself,” she said. “It’s lovely to be back. I can’t wait to get on the stage and get my slap on.”

Suzie is not the only returning cast member, with Lewis Barn-shaw, who played Dandini in the 2011 production of Cinderella, returning to Swindon in the role of Simple Simon.

He said: “It’s great to be back playing my favourite pantomime character. I’m as stupid as he is – Swindon’s in for a treat.”

Kristian Morse, who plays the title character in this year’s magical pantomime adventure, said: “My Mum is extremely excited – she’s arranged a big bus of 40 people, from my hometown in Wales, to come and see the show.”

Meanwhile, Swindon school children have also been getting involved, taking part in the theatre’s Create-a-Cat competition.

Pupils were given free reign with the brief for their cat encouraged to weave, paint, use wire, make papier-mâché or any other method they could think of.

Bishopstone Primary School’s Toffee the Toff Theatre Cat was selected as the winning cat by Kristian Morse, who plays Dick Whittington, securing a £100 prize for the lucky school.

“It’s the most stagey cat,” said Kristian Morse. “I like the moustache and the cane as well. He’s just like our show’s Tommy the Cat.”

Year 2 students from Swindon College’s National Diploma in Arts and Design were also invited to redesign the poster for this year’s pantomime, with the most innovative redesigns on display in the theatre’s lower foyer throughout the run of Dick Whittington.

“I, along with the cast and company of our pantomime, have loved seeing the work that has been created by the pupils and students,” said theatre director Derek Aldridge.

“It cements the bond between us, the theatre, and the Swindon community and really demonstrates how much everyone is looking forward to Dick Whittington and the festive season.”

Dick Whittington runs until Sunday, January 4. For a full list of performances and to book tickets, log on to, or call the Ticket Office on 01793 524 481.