Players return to panto

AFTER a break of six years, the Branscombe Players are resurrecting their panto tradition.

While the group has never stopped as such, staging one act plays and reviews, this is the first full-scale production it will have done in that time.

Chairman Nigel Freathy, a former vicar of Branscombe who moved back to the village in 2008, said: “This year we felt bold enough to do a panto again, and we’ve had lots of support, which we’re very pleased about.”

Called Simple Simon, the show was written by Paul Haines. First staged 10 years ago, it was seen as the ideal material for the relaunch. It tells the tale of a pie competition organised by the King. Nigel plays the pieman and his wife, Annette, plays Sinister Susan. “We add some very unusual ingredients to our pies, namely little children,” he said.

Around 30 people are involved with the production, which takes place at the village hall on December 10 and 11. As in the past, the Finch school of dancing is taking part. The musical score will be accompanied by a trio led by Lynden Webb, and the director is Jerry Holt, a long-standing member of the Players.

Nigel, who had previously been in the Players and was keen to rejoin on return to Branscombe, said: “There will be excellent costumes, scenery, music and special effects, including a horse on stage. Expect plenty of comedy and audience participation.”

Rehearsals began in September and have been stepped up to twice-weekly recently. Nigel said: “We’ve been extremely gratified by the enthusiasm of people who’ve rallied round, especially to help behind the scenes. We’re hoping to build on this in the future.”

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Tickets, which are selling fast, are �5 (2.50 for children) from Branscombe Post Office (01297 680225) or at the door.