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New era for Pantomime as recognition given for mental health awareness

Actor, presenter, and local treasure Joe Tracini won the Special Recognition Award at last night’s 2022 Pantomime Awards


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Actor, presenter, and local treasure Joe Tracini won the Special Recognition Award at last night’s 2022 Pantomime Awards, in what heralds a new era for pantomime.

The awards were hosted by The UK Pantomime Association in association with Butlin’s. Tracini was recognised for changing perceptions and raising awareness of mental health through his pantomime performance and original pantomime song in Norwich Theatre’s Dick Whittington and his Cat.

The pantomime ran for six weeks over Christmas and New Year at Norwich Theatre Royal and was enjoyed by thousands of people. During the show, Joe, playing Whittington’s Cat sings a moving song in tribute to his late mother, the original scaredy cat, with the lines: “I still remember her advice, cos the world’s not perfect but I’ve got one life, I miss her every day but I promise I’m fine. I try to be careful, I try to be brave, cos I got tired of running away. The world’s not perfect, the world’s not kind, if we’ve got each other, we’ll all be all right.”

Chief Executive and Creative Director of Norwich Theatre, Stephen Crocker said: “The character Joe created as the Cat had a backstory around losing his mum and incorporated his own personal challenges around striving to be ok. His song about being brave was truly moving and it’s wonderful that Joe’s performance has been recognised. Pantomime for us is about cherishing tradition and always moving the art form forward. It is so important that when we bring families together at Christmas, particularly children and young people, that the stories we represent help in some way to explore what’s going on in the world. As well as joyful entertainment, pantomimes can enlighten and bring a sense of supportive community too.”

Joe Tracini said: “To say I’m scared of leaving the house nowadays is an understatement, so it was very nice to be given a prize for going to work. Honesty is incredibly hard to come by nowadays, and it always means a lot to me that Stephen and everybody at Norwich Theatre Royal trust me enough to do things a bit differently. This Christmas will be my 20th year performing in panto, and both me and my ukulele, Steve are excited to be spending it back in Norwich, somewhere that’s started to feel very much like my home.”

Norwich Theatre is delighted to be welcoming Tracini back this year to star as Jack in this year’s pantomime Jack & the Beanstalk, opening at Norwich Theatre Royal Saturday 10 December 2022, running until Saturday 7 January 2023.