Panto a thing of the past? Oh no it isn’t!
Once upon a time, there lived a girl named Cinderella ... not in some far-off fairytale-land, but in Hadliegh.
And her story is not quite the one we know so well from childhood.
This version, which is being staged by Hadleigh Amateur Dramatic Society (Hads), is homegrown in every sense of the word.
Hads chairman Trevor Clarke has come up with a fresh take on the familiar favourite as the town’s once-traditional annual panto makes a comeback.
The HadleighCinderella is the popular fairytale with a local twist, says Trevor, who is making his writing and directing debut.
But it has all the traditional ingredients of exuberant cast, catchy songs, toe-tapping dances and loads of audience participation.
It also has a new venue – the town’s St Mary’s Church.
The church has recently replaced its pews with moveable chairs so it can be used for community events.
“The dramatic society, which was founded in 1920, hasn’t put on a panto for quite a few years,” said Trevor.
“And it will also be a first, because we are putting it on in the church.
“They are very keen to use the church as a community space, and it will be made to look like a theatre with a stage and curtains.
“Everyone connected with the church has been really good in working alongside us.”
A raffle will be held during the production to raise money for St Mary’s Porch Project, which provides a meeting place for young people.
Trevor, who is the ironmongery manager at Partridges shop in Hadleigh, has been in Hads since he was 15.
“I have never acted, written or directed before. I’ve always been behind the scenes doing lighting and sound,” he said.
“But I do have a very small role in Cinderella – I’m on stage for all of 30 seconds.”
Trevor has helped put on numerous events in Hadleigh. “I think it’s really important for the town to have entertainment,” he said.
“I’ve also been involved in Elmsett and Aldham Players’ pantomime, as the drummer with their band, and have thought for some time I’d like to produce one.
“I’ve watched numerous shows over the years and picked up lots of ideas.
“Everyone knows the story of Cinderella, but in this version nothing is as it seems.
“There are lots of local references – the Prince lives at Priory Hall, and Cinderella in Highlands Road.
“The ball takes place at Hadleigh Town Hall, and the audience will be able to enjoy spotting mentions of other familiar names, like local businesses.”
The panto has a cast of 20, many of them new to Hads.
“All of them are really enjoying it,” said Trevor, who is married to Sarah-Jane and has a five month-old daughter, Laura. “There’s a very friendly, family atmosphere.”
The HadleighCinderella can be seen at St Mary’s Church tonight, tomorrow and Saturday at 7.30pm.
There is also a matinee at 2pm on Saturday.
Tickets cost £5 for adults and £3.50 for under 12s. They are available from Keith Avis Newsagents, High Street, Hadleigh.
For more information on Hads, go to its website www.hads.moonfruit.com.