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Players bring twist on classic panto to Churchdown

All Areas > Entertainment > Theatre

Author: Thomas Hadfield, Posted: Thursday, 24th October 2019, 09:00

The Players during rehearsal The Players during rehearsal

The Churchdown Players have been entertaining audiences for over 60 years.

Formed in 1958, the amateur dramatics group now has around 40 members and hold two productions a year.

This month the Players will be bringing classic pantomime to the stage at Churchdown Community Centre.

‘Snow White and the Seven Ugly Sisters’ is a play on the classic fairytale, as the show’s director Carolyn Nicholls explains.

She said: “The pantomime, written by Claire Demmer of Off the Wall Plays, is based on the story of Snow White but with a twist – seven sisters.

“I decided to have some men and some women playing the roles as this adds to the humour of the situation. We are also atypical in that we have a man playing the Prince. There are lots of well-known songs and of course the obligatory audience participation.”

Carolyn, who describes herself as a “born and bred Cheltonian” and used to write for The Local Answer, has been with the Players since 2012.

She first started acting in 1994, before a brief hiatus from the stage in the mid noughties, before returning to what she says is one of her great loves, not just for the performing but also the social side of things.

“Drama is my passion, along with singing, walking, running and reading!” she continued.

“We do two productions each year, and in addition we have an annual quiz, a Christmas get together and a group walk in the summer. Most of the cast and crew have been with Churchdown Players for many years.

“We are always keen on welcoming new people though as quite a few of us are a bit older now, we definitely need some younger people on board to extend the choice of plays we can produce.”

For this production, Carolyn will be taking to the director’s seat rather than treading the boards, and she admits it’s a role she’s not one hundred percent used to.

She said: “I have co-directed once in the past and so I am pretty much outside my comfort zone directing a panto. My definite preference is on the stage!

“Pantomime comes with additional challenges – it is both a musical and a play, it has lots of characters and lots of costumes, and on top of that it needs to be funny!”

Auditions took place way back in April and rehearsals are well under way – “we only rehearse on Wednesdays and so far all is going well!” said Carolyn.

“The main cast numbers 13 and additionally there are two children, Evie and Lily Eaton, a small ensemble and a very supportive crew – especially Karen Wright (Production Co-ordinator) and Marilyn Webb (Musical Director).”

The show will be at the Churchdown Community Centre from Wednesday 27th to Friday 29th November at 7.30pm.

As is tradition for the Churchdown Players, the show will end with a departing collection to collect money for a local charity.

Following the production audiences will be able to donate to help fund Cobalt’s Teenagers and Young Adults with Cancer Nurse and their ‘Dementia Futures Fund’.

“Our ‘leaving collection’ is supporting two funding programmes with Cobalt,” explained Carolyn. “Interestingly directly as a result of The Local Answer’s article about them earlier this year.

“My mum has dementia and a close friend’s niece has recently been treated for cancer – now thankfully with the all-clear.

“The fact is that more and more of us will end our lives with dementia unless we focus on fighting it now! I often think young people are the forgotten generation when it comes to illness and so I was really keen to provide support for their very specific needs.”

Tickets for ‘Snow White and the Seven Ugly Sisters’ cost £7 and £6 for concessions, and can be bought on 01242 520388.

For more information on the Churchdown Players visit www.churchdownplayers.com

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