BIG PANTO NEWS! David Phipps-Davis is confirmed to return to pantoland at Stafford Gatehouse this year as Dame Trott in the GIANT family pantomime Jack and the Beanstalk from 06 Dec 2024 – 05 Jan 2025. He joins the previously announced Theo the Mouse and Wendy and Wink Taylor for the magical family treat.

David is thrilled to be back in Stafford for a second year having had such fun last year as Madeleine Marzipan in Beauty and the Beast. This is David’s thirtieth panto, but only the third time he’s done Jack and the Beanstalk. Other titles include Snow White and Sleeping Beauty, The Jungle Book, Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, Mother Goose, Peter Pan, Dick Whittington, Robin Hood, Goldilocks, Cinderella and Aladdin!  As well as appearing in panto, David also writes and directs them! As a director David has staged over fifty productions of plays, musicals, pantomimes, operettas and operas.

Alongside his career in panto David has starred on many shows including Oliver! and The Phantom of the Opera. On his role in La Traviata David was described as being “like a demented Dame Hilda Bracket!”

He says of returning to Stafford this Christmas “I had such a great time in Stafford last year, the venue was lovely and the audiences amazing, so I’m absolutely thrilled to back this year to appear in my favourite panto ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’. Look forward to even bigger songs and slosh, and a silly old cow – and I don’t mean me!”

The Trotts are so poor they don’t have a bean to their name, and what is more there is a giant terrifying the village. Come and see if Jack can defeat the giant, win the heart of the girl he loves and turn the Trotts’ fortunes around in this hilarious family pantomime.

Book YOUR tickets to this enchanting family pantomime today and watch this space for more casting news!




Calling all young performers! Do you love to dance? Do you love to perform? If so, come along to our open auditions to find young dancers for our gigantic family pantomime, JACK AND THE BEANSTALK at the Gatehouse on Sunday, September 15.

The auditions are open to all children aged 9-16 who are in school years 4-11 during the production.

Auditions start at 10am with registration at 9.30.

For more information visit Stafford Jack and the Beanstalk Junior Ensemble audition info sheet

And to apply just fill in this Stafford Junior Ensemble application form




Gatehouse teams up with Staffordshire University

Staffordshire University is raising the curtain on a new partnership with Stafford’s Gatehouse Theatre to give students opportunities to shine

We are delighted that the partnership has the potential to open doors for our students and graduates who are being given golden opportunities to see backstage and meet the cast, crews and directors of the theatre’s biggest productions.
Deborah Sanderson, Head of Development and Alumni Relations

Under the initiative, drama students will be guaranteed audition places for a part in the annual Stafford Shakespeare production of Twelfth Night: A Cornish Tale which takes place at the theatre between June 21 and July 7.

Twelfth Night: A Cornish Tale is directed by Sean Turner and features a star cast including Natalie Anderson from Netflix hit Fool Me Once, top comic Seann Walsh and BAFTA winner Molly Windsor (Three Girls – BBC One).

Meanwhile, students from other creative industry courses are being encouraged to work backstage or in technical roles supporting the Gatehouse Youth Theatre or the Summer School production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

There will be also be opportunities for students and graduates to get involved in the annual pantomime Jack and the Beanstalk which is directed by Staffordshire University senior lecturer Richard Cheshire.

Stafford Gatehouse Manager Gary Stevens said: “We are a diverse and inclusive community venue, offering a wide range of events and productions throughout the year; from reggae to rep theatre, ballet to Box Office smashes, Milkshake to Shakespeare and, of course, pop music to panto.

“We’re really excited at the prospect of working with Staffordshire University as a long-term partner and working with the students in a practical way to improve their skills and employability. Importantly, there’s the opportunity to make our shows, and possibly a career in theatre, more accessible by supporting our Youth Theatre and Summer School initiatives.”

In the past 12 months, the Gatehouse has a run of sell-out shows and big names including Tom Allen, Kate Mosse, Tracy Borman, Sarah Millican, Queenz, Brian Blessed, Marti Pellow and Ed Byrne.

Staffordshire University photography graduate Maddie Hughes has worked as in-house photographer for the venue since the second year of her degree course and has photographed all major productions, touring shows and celebrities including Tom Allen, Danny Baker and Brian Blessed.

She said: “I started working just for a bit of work experience, and then I was offered the job as the official in-house photographer. This opened up opportunities for me to be able to build my portfolio and shoot big names in big productions because I want to develop my career into film and TV and possibly bigger theatre productions as well. And it’s been a really beneficial opportunity for me to be able to have that stepping-stone into my future career.

“Starting here as a student, I’ve really been able to build my confidence working in this industry. It’s an industry that I never really knew existed for a subject like photography. And so it’s really been able to open my eyes to what students from creative subjects can go into.”

Head of Development and Alumni Relations Deborah Sanderson said: “This partnership runs much deeper than having our branding on the theatre’s production materials. Stafford Gatehouse is an excellent community asset which touches on the lives of many people and its values around accessibility very much align with our own.

“We are delighted that the partnership has the potential to open doors for our students and graduates who are being given golden opportunities to see backstage and meet the cast, crews and directors of the theatre’s biggest productions.”

Below: Staffordshire University alumni, Maddie Hughes


Ocean Recovery Project backs Stafford Shakespeare

Gatehouse Theatre teams up with Ocean Recovery Project for TWELFTH NIGHT: A Cornish Tale

The Gatehouse Theatre has teamed up with one of Britain’s top ocean conservation projects to work together on this year’s Stafford Shakespeare production, TWELFTH NIGHT: A Cornish Tale.

Bosses are working with Keep Britain Tidy’s Ocean Recovery Project, which will see litter and debris washed up on beaches in the south west used to create the set for the annual production.

The Bard’s much-loved play begins with a shipwreck and the producers have set this year’s Shakespeare production in 1960s Cornwall.

Almost half a tonne of fishing nets, life buoys, fish boxes and other detritus from Cornwall and Devon has been delivered to the Eastgate Street venue, where the play will be staged from June 21 to July 7.

Neil Hembrow, Ocean Recovery Project manager, said: ‘We’re delighted to be working with the Gatehouse Theatre.

‘We get tonnes of material washed up on the shore and in harbours. A lot of it is plastic and we work with fishermen, trawler companies and volunteers to recycle it.

‘Not only does it mean the material is re-used, but it also keeps our beaches and harbours tidy.

‘Our work is also important because we collect many lost nets. Often these are giant trawl nets rolling around in our oceans, snaring fish in what is called ‘ghost fishing’, as the catches are never landed.

‘The nets are catching fish long after they are lost by trawlers and fishermen because they are plastic and will last for hundreds of years, potentially.

‘So it’s important we collect them when they wash ashore to stop that happening.

‘I think this is the first time we’ve worked with a theatre, so it’s a really innovative solution to making use of this debris and I can’t wait to see how it all looks on stage and around the building.’

TWELFTH NIGHT: A Cornish Tale producer Mike Groves is the driving force behind the initiative and he said: ‘We’re always looking for theatrical solutions that help with environmental sustainability so we’re delighted with this partnership.

‘As our play is TWELFTH NIGHT: A Cornish Tale, we were looking to source lots of fishing nets etc and we struck upon the idea of contacting Keep Britain Tidy and their Ocean Recovery Project.

‘They have very kindly donated a huge van-load of material with all sorts of things on board – there’s even a rusty old anchor in there, so everything is very authentic.

‘It’s come straight from the harbours and beaches – it only washed up a day or so before it all arrived and you can genuinely still smell the sea on it.

‘Stafford is probably one of the most inland towns you can find, but we still have an environmental responsibility and it’s great to be able to play even a small part in helping keep our beaches and oceans safe and clean.’

Some of the material will also be used to dress the theatre’s front of house area and afterwards it will be sent for recycling in Gloucester.

Freedom Leisure, one of the UK’s leading charitable and not-for-profit leisure trusts, manages Stafford Gatehouse Theatre on behalf of Stafford Borough Council.

Angela Brown, Group Sustainability and Environmental Manager at Freedom Leisure, said: ‘Incorporating tangible environmental initiatives into the theatre realm is a noteworthy and commendable accomplishment. This is a wonderful example of Freedom Leisure’s commitment to collaborating with partners to showcase environmental responsibility and creating awareness on the impact our actions have on the environment.’

TWELFTH NIGHT: A Cornish Tale will be directed by Sean Turner, who also directed last year’s hit Stafford Shakespeare production A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM, which drew a record drama audience of more than 5,000 people to the Gatehouse.

It will star Natalie Anderson from Netflix hit FOOL ME ONCE and the producers are set to reveal more star names shortly.

For information on the Keep Britain Tidy Ocean Recovery Project, visit


Netflix Natalie joins Twelfth Night cast

The Gatehouse Theatre is delighted to announce that NATALIE ANDERSON has joined the cast of this summer’s TWELFTH NIGHT.

Natalie will take on the role of Olivia in the Stafford Shakespeare production which runs from June 21-July 7 and is set in 1950s Cornwall.

She recently played Claire Walker, who met an untimely end in the hit Netflix drama FOOL ME ONCE, starring Michelle Keegan.

She has also featured in critically-acclaimed BBC shows including HAPPY VALLEY and last year’s Stephen Graham drama BOILING POINT, as well as earlier roles in THE ROYAL (ITV) and EMMERDALE (ITV). In 2021 she appeared in the Liam Neeson action film MEMORY, which also starred Guy Pearce.

She said: ‘I’m thrilled to be joining the Stafford Shakespeare company at the Gatehouse Theatre this summer and can’t wait to take on the wonderful role of Olivia in one of Shakespeare’s greatest plays, ‘Twelfth Night’.’

The annual Stafford Shakespeare production has been a highlight of the county’s cultural calendar since 1991 and last year’s A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM attracted a record audience for a drama show at the Gatehouse.

General Manager Gary Stevens said: ‘We are delighted to have Natalie join the cast. It shows again just how prestigious the production is.’

TWELFTH NIGHT, directed by Sean Turner, will be the 32nd Stafford Shakespeare production, with the first being HENRY V at Stafford Castle in 1991. Last year, the event moved to the Gatehouse Theatre where it achieved a record audience for a drama at the venue, with more than 5,000 people attending. Producer Mike Groves said: ‘I’m thrilled to be working on another Stafford Shakespeare project. It’s become a real passion of mine to champion regional theatres and their produced work.

‘Having this level of cast and creatives on board is a very exciting piece of the puzzle that will bring this production to life.’

Tickets for TWELFTH NIGHT are available now at an Early Bird rate of just £22.00 until February 12. Book via the Box Office on 01785 619080 or

Directed by: Sean Turner

Musical Director: Stephen Hyde

Movement Direction: Amy Lawrence

Set & Costume Designer: Alfie Heywood

Lighting Design: Barry Smith

Sound Design: Hattie North




Due to phenomenal demand, our JACK AND THE BEANSTALK pantomime run for 2024/25 has been extended!
This superb family show will now open on DECEMBER 6 and run to JANUARY 5.
A Gatehouse spokesperson said: ‘We had a lot of sell-out performances for BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, so we want to give even more people the chance to see this year’s panto.
‘We’ve already sold more than 2,000 tickets for JACK AND THE BEANSTALK so our advice is to book early to avoid missing out.’
Tickets are available NOW from the Box Office on 01785 619080 or…/jack-and-the…/


Gatehouse Summer School 2024

The Gatehouse Theatre is delighted to announce that our 2024 Summer School production will be CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY.

This is the perfect first step for young people who are interested in a career in entertainment – or just want to have fun and make some new friends over the summer.

Under the tuition and guidance of professional directors, choreographers and producers, it’s a great introduction to live theatre – with no pressure put on anyone taking part. First and foremost, it’s about enjoying yourselves!

This year’s production promises to be an golden-ticket cracker.

Based on the famous novel by Roald Dahl, the production features an original score composed by Marc Shaiman with lyrics by Shaiman and Scott Wittman (Hairspray) and a book by David Greig.

The score also pays homage to the Leslie Bricusse/Anthony Newley score from the 1971 film with songs from the motion picture including ‘Candy Man’, ‘I’ve Got a Golden Ticket’, ‘Oompa Loompa Song’ and ‘Pure Imagination’.

The world-famous Willy Wonka is opening the gates to his mysterious factory… but only to a lucky few.

Young Charlie Bucket and four other golden ticket winners will embark on a life-changing journey through Wonka’s world of pure imagination including chocolate waterfalls, nutty squirrels and the great glass elevator, all to be revealed by Wonka’s army of curious Oompa-Loompas.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is your golden ticket to free entertainment in Stafford this summer!

The project is open to anyone aged between 9-18 years of age and dates of the summer school run from the 5th to 24th August 2024.

Performances will be on the 23rd and 24th August 2024 and tickets for the shows are completely free!

Auditions for our summer school will take place on the 12th May from 10am. More details will follow after you’ve submitted an application form.

To apply for our summer school experience, download an application form here and return to

Fees are £300 per person. Bursaries are available to cover fees in some cases.

To apply for a bursary, download an application form here and return to (Bursaries are strictly limited and not all applications are guaranteed.)

We look forward to creating this wonderful musical with you!



Can you help?

Can you help provide accommodation/digs for artists performing in forthcoming Gatehouse shows?

We’re looking for people with availability to put up artists who are appearing at our theatre in 2024.

Payment is available and all our artists are lovely people!

Simply fill out the form here and send it to or call Alison Young on 01785 619080.


Can you help?

Can you help provide accommodation/digs for artists performing in forthcoming Gatehouse shows?

We’re looking for people with availability to put up artists who are appearing at our theatre in 2024.

Payment is available and all our artists are lovely people!

Simply fill out the form here and send it to or call Alison Young on 01785 619080.



Panto 2024: It’s Jack And The Beanstalk!

Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum, Jack And The Beanstalk is full of fun!

Yes, we are proud to announce that our 2024/25 pantomime will be the all-time family favourite Jack And The Beanstalk.

Forced to sell his lovely pet cow for some worthless beans, join Jack as he battles to outwit the great big giant, land riches beyond his wildest dreams and win the hand of his true love.

Get ready for great jokes, bad jokes, terrible jokes and lots of laughs, music, dancing and magic beans (maybe they aren’t worthless after all!).

Will Jack climb that giant beanstalk to reach his happy ending? Will the front rows get soaked in the process? Will you get the best seats in the house by booking early?

All this – and more – will be revealed in the laugh-a-minute panto spectacular of Jack And The Beanstalk at the Gatehouse in 2024.

Tickets from just £23 . . . Oh yes they are!