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Oh what a pantomime!

February in a village can be rather quiet. Christmas and New Year over, short daylight hours, not a lot happening. Just waiting for spring. Not so in East Worldham. February half term - what better time to stage a pantomime? 

The idea has been around for a few years, finally coming to fruition as a group of friends chatted in the Three Horseshoes pub. Auditions were held in September, rehearsals began in October. Tickets went on sale in November for three performances. They sold out within two weeks, so a limited number of audience were allowed for the dress rehearsal. Show time!

Pantomime is a peculiarly British phenomenon. Jess Whitehill (the Australian-born director of this production) knew nothing about it when she volunteered to write a script especially for the event. The result has all the hallmarks of a truly classic pantomime, with music, topical jokes, and slapstick comedy. It appeals to young and old alike. How much more so when familiar faces appear as Cinderella, the fairy godmother, wicked stepmother and the ugly sisters?

An East Hampshire District Councillor Community Grant provided welcome financial support, through Councillor David Ashcroft. David attended the first night performance, commenting “This event for me is what the grant is designed for. Pulling the community together, giving a focus for community involvement for the enjoyment of the community.” This sentiment was echoed in the support provided by Kings World, the magazine that serves the communities of Kingsley, Oakhanger, the Worldhams and Hartley Mauditt, several of whom were involved in the production. Thanks to the financial support, the funds raised through ticket sales will help to support future community activities.

Non- financial support also contributed to the success of the production. While there are too many to name here, special thanks are owed for the beautiful theatrical costumes, courtesy of Elvie Carpenter and the fantastic professional sound and lighting provided by Chris Wilson of WLX Productions. To complete the ambience Chris even provided a glitter ball and Cinderella’s carriage! Thanks also to Mary Herbert who worked tirelessly sourcing props, further costumes and managing behind the scenes logistics.

Ten children joined the ten adults on stage, giving them an experience that will last a lifetime. It would be unfair to single out individuals. A huge amount of work and a lot of laughter went into the whole production by everyone - they know who they are, and so do the audiences. Congratulations to all the cast and to those who worked behind the scenes.

This was the first pantomime that Worldham has staged: perhaps not the last dramatic production for the newly-formed East Worldham Players. Experience, skills and talent were combined with team work and commitment to present a pantomime that is likely to have the community talking for some time.