Panto expert to give out tips at workshop

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ALTHOUGH everyone is enjoying the sunny summer this year, the thoughts of Ponteland Repertory Society are firmly fixed on the last week of November and its next production – pantomime Sleeping Beauty.

And its preparations for the show step up a gear this weekend with auditions for a range of parts, including the beautiful princess and handsome prince, the evil villain and bumbling monarch, the nutty Nanny and the fluttery fairy.

To help prepare the would-be cast for them and to give members old and new an insight into panto craft, a special workshop is being held on Saturday.

It will be led by pantomime authority Simon Sladen, who is also the man behind the script for the show that will be tailored to Ponteland.

He is the British Theatre Guide’s Panto Editor, a job that includes reviewing 25 pantomimes each season as well as filing updates and interviews with the industry’s practitioners.

Mr Sladen said: “When my secondary school drama teacher Carole Davies invited me to get involved with this year’s Ponteland Repertory Society pantomime, I jumped at the chance to work with her again.

“Carole and I collaborated on a variety of productions during our time at the Littlehampton Community School, from Oliver to A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat to Caucasian Chalk Circle, but never pantomime. “Sleeping Beauty will be our first as writer/director and having heard Carole’s plans, this year’s show is going to be quite spectacular indeed!”

The PhD researcher at the University of Winchester has written about the subject for a range of journals and has provided pantomime-related content for the Birmingham Hippodrome and Channel 4.

He has had two pantomimes published by LazyBee Scripts and will shortly take up a new post at the Victoria and Albert Museum as Assistant to the Curator of Modern and Contemporary Performance in the Theatre and Performance Department.

The workshop on Saturday is being held at Darras Hall First School between 10am and 2.30pm and the auditions are taking place on Sunday.

Anyone interested in coming along for one or both sessions should contact Carole Davies by telephone on 01661 871161 or email