Preparing to hit the stage at Pannal Village Hall for the first time in two years, this community-based team effort appears to have benefited from the enforced break.
While the world battled the pandemic, its venue has now been redecorated and its director-writer Clive Kirkham has thoroughly recharged his panto batteries just in time for its return in two weeks’ time.
“We just scraped in with our last panto, Lost Babes In Space, in February 2020 which finished its run just a few weeks from the start of lockdown,” said Clive.
“Having done it for a few years now, I’d run out of ideas a bit. But lockdown gave me the chance to come up with fresh ideas.”
Doing the panto is always a cause close to the village’s heart as proceeds go towards support local cancer charities in memory of much-missed Panto Players member Joanna Luty who lost her life to cancer at the age of 21.
“We always invite Joanna’s parents to come along,” he said. “In the past we’ve presented them with a cheque for Teenage Cancer Trust. This year all proceeds will go to the Young Adult Ward at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust."
In the hands of Clive, Sleeping Beauty has been transformed into the tale of a typical teenager, struck down by a mystery sleeping illness, who has to isolate in her family bubble for 100 years.
Although boasting the expected Kirkham lyrical twist to classic 70s disco songs and 80s pop hits, Clive says this year’s panto is more conventional than the pre-pandemic era.
“We weren’t entirely sure who would be available to be in the cast after lockdown,” he says.
“Anyone who has seen our panto before will get largely what they are used to but we’ve gone for a more traditional approach than some years.”
Working with a slightly smaller cast of 15 compared to the usual 20 or so this time round, Clive says the key to the appeal of the Pannal Players panto is how everybody mucks in.
As we speak, both the dame, played by Mike Newby, and the principal boy, played by Helen Mercer-Jones are rehearsing at fever pitch while a team of mums are hard at work making the sets and scenery under the direction of stage manager Sally Blake.
It all promises to be Pannal Players’ best panto yet.
“We just want to serve up an entertaining night out for charity. There will be groan-worthy Carry On type puns and cheesy sing-a-long music but there will still be some twists.”
Among the cast members of Sleeping Beauty are - Lorna Snowden as Fairy Nasty Indeed. Rosie Wignall as Fairy Nuff. Eve Pennell as Crystal Maze. Michael Newby as Wanda Wye. Scarlett Swales as Fairy Grotto. Ella Corfield as Pimple. Dave Parratt as Eevan Jellicle. Jon Swales as the King. Katie Corfield as Boil. Maddie Henry as Princess Be'Atch. Lindsay Corfield as The Queen.
Pannal Players present Sleeping Beauty runs at Pannal Village Hall from February 23-26.
For tickets, visit: https://www.jumblebee.co.uk/