Panto fun is on the way

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One of Morpeth’s longest running theatre groups is back this year with its 37th pantomime and rehearsals are well underway.

Earlier in the week we took a peek behind the scenes to see how the rehearsals for Morpeth Pantomime Society’s annual show are going.

The group hopes that this year’s production of Beauty and the Beast will live up to the expectations of previous perfomances.

This year, Gordon Carr returns for his 15th time to direct this whirlwind of a show.

Carr said: “Our version of Beauty and The Beast is taken partly from the original story, first published in 1756, and a slightly later fairy tale by a Frenchman called Villeneuve.

“The plot varies considerably from the famous Disney film. The villain in our panto is an evil sorcerous called Nasteesia (referred to as ‘Nasty’ throughout the show played by Gill Tait, who is a long serving member of the society

“Nasty has designs on young Prince Henri with a view to taking over his kingdom.

“He, however, ignores her advances as he will only marry for love. Nasty uses her evil powers and transforms Henri into a Beast (played by Peter Archer) imprisoned in his own castle.

“The curse will only be broken if someone truly loves him and tells him so, which of course brings the traditional triumph of good over evil.”

Of course, no show would be complete without a bit of comedy and funny moments will not be in short supply.

Carr added: “The necessary comedy is provided by Beauty’s father played by Alan Dodd, the old governess of the prince, Lady Gertrude, played by Andy Cottiss, and the Town Cryer played by Stewart Dives.

“I mention these three gentlemen because they are all new to the society this year.”

“We have more comedy from two village idiot type identical twins Harry (Chris Davies) and Horace (Eric Tolman) and Garlic the castle gardener”

As the production is being performed by a well and truly family-based society, there are several youngsters in lead roles.

Current chairman Bruce Ennion said this was an important part of the society.

“We’ve been going for 37 years now but always encourage ‘youngsters’ as much we possibly can, and we have quite a large junior membership.

“Hopefully, this will encourage them to take more of an active interest in the arts as they grow up.

“I’ve been a member of the society since the day it started. We wanted the concept of having a pantomime for Morpeth and the surrounding area and to do it at an ‘economical price’. Money is obviously difficult for organisers so we do a degree of fund-raising during the year but we’re just about breaking even but we’re here to entertain people in Morpeth and the surrounding area.”

The Morpeth Pantomime Society will perform Beauty and the Beast at King Edwards VI School from Thursday, January 21, to Saturday, January 23. Tickets are £5 from The Chantry, Tourist Information Centre or by calling 07715 858942 or visit www.morpethpantomimesociety.com