Hitchin's Market Theatre set to reopen with live entertainment and the return of the adult panto

Adult panto cast members Nick Hooton, Carrie Bunyan and Jemma Carlisle in rehearsal at the Market Theatre in Hitchin.

Adult panto cast members Nick Hooton, Carrie Bunyan and Jemma Carlisle in rehearsal at the Market Theatre in Hitchin. - Credit: Market Theatre

Hitchin's Market Theatre is set to finally reopen its doors for live entertainment. 

The Hitchin venue's popular adult panto will return to the stage at the Sun Street cultural hub from Thursday, May 20.

The new cast of Hitchin Market Theatre's adult panto Senmeafella

The new cast of The Market Theatre's adult panto Senmeafella, which will reopen in Hitchin on May 20 - Credit: Market Theatre

Like all entertainment venues, the theatre has been closed since March 2020, although it did have a brief opening from September to December with a November lockdown in the middle. 

In December 2020, Market Theatre creatives ran their infamous adult pantomime.

Entitled Senmeafella, the theatre's twisted version of Cinderella played for just two weeks before a Christmas lockdown forced the venue to close again.

Now that it’s summer, some may say that panto season is behind us!

Oh yes it is… Oh no it isn’t, because the venue has decided to finish what they started and the Adult Panto - Senmeafella will reopen and run for six weeks from May 20. 

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Sadly two of the cast members from December are now unavailable.

However, seasoned Market Theatre actors Carrie Bunyan, who has appeared in numerous adult pantos and other plays, and Jemma Carlisle, who most recently appeared in the one-woman show Nell Gwyn, are taking on the female roles.

They are joined by previous cast member Nick Hooton, who is well known to many adult panto fans, both in HItchin and on tour.

Theatre manager Glyn Doggett said: “We are delighted to finally be opening our doors for live theatre again after so long, and what better way to start than with our most popular comedy.

"We are urging everyone to come and join us as for some much-needed fun and silliness, as long as you're 16 or over!”

As usual, the Market Theatre's unique brand of adult panto is packed with fast-paced farcical action and, of course, plenty of innuendo.

Artistic director Kirk Foster is keen to remind people that they are not out to offend.

He said: “We always say this, but our adult pantos are enjoyed by audiences from 16 to 80, and we know that pre-COVID with the shows, both in Hitchin and on tour around the UK, our popularity was growing.

"It feels like there is a certain amount of having to start over again after such a long closure but we know from feedback just how desperate audiences are to see some live theatre.”

From April, the Market Theatre was able to open its courtyard as a bar area and offer a little bit of live music from local musicians.

The Courtyard Bar with live music at Hitchin's Market Theatre.

The Courtyard Bar with live music at Hitchin's Market Theatre. - Credit: Market Theatre

Kirk said: “We were delighted with how well this went, so we are going to make live music a permanent fixture here from now on around our plays and we’ve got acts lined up for Fridays and Saturdays plus our themed Thursday nights celebrating a different decade going forward each week."

He continued: “The enforced closure has given us a chance to look at what we offer and we are keen to see people use our bars and spaces not just when they come to see a show.  

"Live music we hope will encourage people to spend the night with us and throughout the summer people can bring their own food and really make a night of it!”

Following the adult panto, the venue has a number of events lined up for July as part of the Hitchin Festival.

These include a drama and a week of live comedy, plus the theatre's ongoing live music nights that run into August and September.

For more details, and to book tickets for shows and tables for the bars, visit www.markettheatre.co.uk

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