A little of the old and the new for Panto!

This year’s festive offering, Snow White, opens on Friday 29th November. Hopefully you’ve got your tickets because they are flying out of the door.

It’s Tim Stedman’s twentieth year as the panto comic. I’ve been here for fifteen of them and it’s been an absolute pleasure to watch him hone his skills. The critics never have a bad word for Tim. They frequently compare his work to Charlie Chaplin, Stan Laurel or Morecambe and Wise. That’s not bad company is it?

His work ethic is second to none. He cares so much about the people that attend year after year and he totally understands that the Theatre is a fundamental part of Christmas in Harrogate. The size and gruelling nature of a pantomime dictate that nothing can be achieved unless the whole building gets behind the production. And what a team it is this year right across the show. From design and creatives to crew to marketing to box office and front of house. The cast is lovely mix of established (like Tim), returning and new. But it’s the very new that I’d like to focus on - the group of young school performers playing the dancers and ensemble.

It’s a tough schedule for them in an intimidating environment of highly trained professionals. But this year’s group of twenty-four 12-18 year olds has more then held its own and shown extraordinary levels of commitment. They are here on merit and enhance the show tremendously. The director Phil Lowe and choreographer David Lee aim high, but also understand that they create experiences and memories that will stay with these young people for the rest of their lives.

Lastly, a word about our chaperones Emma Tugman, Tori Moor, Hannah Draper and Jackie Bell who encourage and support this group on a pastoral level. I have had the privilege of assisting them this week and the job of containing the group’s enthusiasm without dousing the joy isn’t easy (I think their own joy of being involved helps). However, without the care of the chaperone team we would not have the privilege of these young people’s involvement. Chaperoning is a great way to experience the pantomime backstage and we are always on the lookout for more.

First published in the Harrogate Advertiser THU 28 NOV.