AN award-winning drama group is returning to a town theatre with a all singing and all dancing panto after a three-year absence.

Stane Street Players is back at Halstead’s Empire Theatre with its performance of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, written by Ben Crocker.

The group’s last pantomime was Dick Whittington in 2020 just before the pandemic struck and Covid restrictions have kept them from treading the Boards in Halstead since.

Braintree and Witham Times: Halstead Empire TheatreHalstead Empire Theatre (Image: N/A)

In 2022, momentum has picked up and the group has produced two shows, ‘Caught in the Net’ by Ray Cooney, and ‘Around the World in 80 days’ by Laura Eason, which have been enthusiastically received by audiences and critically acclaimed in reviews by the North Essex Theatre Guild.

The group has been nominated for and won several awards, most recently for Ben Blackborow as best supporting actor in Caught in the Net, Martin James as best Dame in a Pantomime (Dick Whittington) and Best Pantomime (Mother Goose).

A spokesman said: “Ben is directing Ali Baba for us, so why not come with us and visit the magical world of Old Baghdad?

“Comic mayhem is unleashed when Ali Baba discovers a cave full of stolen treasure.

“Will the wicked thieves find him out? Will he get to marry the girl of his dreams? And will Mum Baba and her camel, Kamilla be able to help?

“Join us for a roller coaster of a pantomime which is fun from start to finish and discover a topsy-turvy world where the traditional pantomime of ‘Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves’ has been lovingly re-invented by the wittiest and most inventive writer working in pantomime today, Ben Crocker.”

Braintree and Witham Times: Ben CrockerBen Crocker (Image: N/A)

There are six performances at Halstead’s Empire Theatre in Butler Road coming at the end of the month.

Shows are on January 21 at 2.30pm and 7.30pm, January 22 at 2.30pm, January 28 at 2.30pm and 7.30pm and January 29 at 2.30pm.

Prices for all tickets have been held at the pre-pandemic price of £11.00 (including booking fee) and are available from

Tickets can also be purchased by calling the Empire on 07778 025490.