Pantomime classic marks 48 years

Cast of the Lovelace Theatre production of Peter Panto
Cast of the Lovelace Theatre production of Peter Panto

A Hucknall theatre company is set to celebrate its 48th year in the limelight with a pantomime classic.

The curtain goes up on Peter Panto, the Lovelace Theatre Group’s adaptation of the JM Barrie tale, on Wednesday January 20 at the John Godber Centre - the same stage where the group first performed in 1968.

And later this year, members of the amateur dramatics group will perform alongside stars from the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC).

Linda Mayes, who runs the junior theatre group, has been involved with the company since she first saw Robinson Crusoe as an 11-year-old in 1973.

She said: “I just went along with my grandma to watch a show and I was hooked. I remember there was a pink elephant and that must have had a big effect!

“I have always had a love of theatre - I love being up there. Now running the group I love to get the children involved. It helps them to grow in confidence. It’s fun. I love to see them progress and blossom.

“The young lady playing Wendy has been with us since she was ten and now she’s in the lead role. We have great links with Holgate School so the children can help build sets and put it on their CVs. ”

The company has 30 juniors, aged from nine and half to 15, and between 30 and 50 adult members.

Linda said: “If it becomes too big you can get lost in it all. It’s more like a family. Some people prefer to be backstage doing lighting, costumes and sound. And they are as important as the people on the stage.”

The company stages a pantomime at the end of January, productions in May and October, and the juniors mount a fundraising graduation day in July which helps towards running costs.

Among its many productions are versions of Billy Liar, Blithe Spirit and The Importance of Being Earnest as well as plays by Alan Ayckbourne and Willy Russell.

In May, Linda, Becky Morris, Tom Morley (author of Peter Panto) Daniel Knight, Jen White and James McBride will perform as the rude mechanicals - a group of amateur actors who put themselves forward to entertain royalty at the end of the show - in a touring production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream for dates at the Theatre Royal in Nottingham and three performances in Stratford-upon-Avon.

Linda said: “We have just started rehearsing with the professionals. It’s hard work but we are learning such a lot and we can pass it on to the group.”