This year, Prestbury Youth Pantomime is celebrating the staging of its 40th consecutive pantomime, writes Malcolm Storer.
A lot has changed since the first production of Cinderella back in 1980, but the ethos of the group has remained the same, as Chairman Iain MacLeod and Secretary Emma Hine were keen to point out when we got together for a chat.
Iain has been involved with the group for six years, and his enthusiasm is infectious. “This is a very important year for us.
We carry quite a legacy. First and foremost, we’re a community-based organisation. Our aim is the to bring people together.
As it’s our 40th anniversary we want to make it a real celebration.
We’re encouraging people from 40 years ago who took part in the panto to contact us and share their memories.”
Prestbury Youth Panto is run by adults, but the performance side of things is open to young people of high school age who live in the local area.
Emma got involved with the group through her children taking part. “Once that happens then of course as parents you’re drawn in.
My children are older now, but they like to come back and lend a hand. My eldest son is on the sound and my youngest is helping with the props.
This is what happens — when they get too old to do the panto they can still take part in one form or another. It’s a continuing process.”
This year’s panto is the ever-popular Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
The whole process starts in September, as Iain explains, “We run a pre-audition evening at Prestbury Village School.
We invite parents and children along. We point out to the children what’s expected of them. We also like to stress to parents that they will get a lot out of it too.
It’s about doing something for the community whilst having a lot of fun. We like to draw on the talents of the parents. One lady is a graphic designer, so she’s doing the program for this year. Another is a photographer who does all the publicity photos. But you don’t need to have a child in the group to help out.”
The pantomime is held in January at the Little Theatre in Macclesfield and runs for five nights.
The theatre holds 200 people, and most years it’s a sell out.
I asked Emma about the cost of staging the event. “A professional level pantomime, with state-of-the art sound and lighting, is not cheap to put on, so we rely on sponsorship as well as ticket sales and membership fees. We try and offset costs by recycling things like costumes and props.
Our costume department has costumes that go back 40 years!
We also have ‘Prestbury Youth Panto Patrons’. For £10.00 a year you can support this wonderful village tradition, have your name in the programme and receive a free programme on show night.
Sounds like community spirit is alive and well in Prestbury!
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