As panto season prepares to kick off in Wolverhampton with Aladdin, the Grand Theatre has teamed up with the Light House Media Centre to launch a new free exhibition looking at previous panto performances over the theatre’s 120 history.

The Grand Theatre has a long history of pantomime, with the first being Sinbad The Sailor which opened on Christmas Eve 1894, just two weeks after the theatre opened. Since then, the theatre has hosted a wealth of star names including John Inman, Linda Lusardi, The Grumbleweeds, The Krankies, Su Pollard, Frank Bruno, Christopher Biggins, Paul Zerdin, Joe Pasquale and his son Joe Tracini, Julian Clary and the Chuckle Brothers – and not forgetting real live lions in a production of Robinson Crusoe!

The exhibition is home to a patchwork magic carpet, that forms a focal point. The carpet has been pieced together as part of a community project overseen by Head Of Creative Learning and Education, Claudia Gilmour. 24 local community groups and schools participated in the project – ranging from Teenage Cancer Trust to local primary schools to Age UK. Each group has received a free textile design workshop, supported by donations from the Grand Theatre’s Creative Learning Fund. Participants have experimented with a wide range of textile techniques to create their own individual Aladdin-themed decorative textile designs for a piece of the quilted carpet. One of the completed carpets is now hung in the exhibition, the two carpets feature over 270 individual pieces which have been sewn together. The second carpet will be displayed at the Grand Theatre during the ALADDIN pantomime run.

There is a rail of costumes for children to try on and become a panto prince, princess or an altogether more sinister character, as well as a display of archive programmes and walls of information dedicated to memorable moments and performers.

The exhibiton can be seen throughout the run of Aladdin until 22 January. The Lighthouse Media Centre will be closed between 24 December – 1 January 2017, reopening from the evening of 2 January 2017.

Aladdin runs 10 December 2016 – 22 January 2017. For more information and tickets visit www.grandtheatre.co.uk

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Editor at large of Polaroids and Polar Bears, PR bod and not-so-secret geek. Chris established Polaroids and Polar Bears in 2013.

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