Theatre Club Optimistic That Panto Can Go Ahead

theatre town hallThe Chairman of St Mary’s Theatre Club says she is hopeful that their winter pantomime can go ahead.

Gail Sibley is optimistic that the current uncertainty over the Town Hall availability will be resolved.

Earlier this year the Council brought in a theatre auditorium expert from Cornwall to check the integrity of the lighting array.

There’s been concern that the old structure and the club’s sets could be adding stress to the ceiling and roof of the building.

The first inspection was earlier in the year and as a health and safety concern has been identified, it meant that the summer play couldn’t use the stage. That restriction is still in place.

Gail says it would be difficult staging a pantomime on a smaller raised platform and the show wouldn’t work at floor level or ‘in the round’ because of the number of actor entrances and the size of cast and backstage crew, which can exceed 80 people.

Gail hopes that the current dialogue with the Council will reach a positive conclusion at the end of this month because the club need to choose and cast a panto soon.

Their summer production ended on Tuesday and was well received, but the last year has been marked by compromise and changed plans for the club.

Fewer volunteers have been available to rehearse and perform at the height of the season.

Duets, a trilogy of short plays, was chosen this summer because the small cast could play multiple roles.

Gail says the club will need to address the falling numbers of both members and audiences.

The capacity of the Town Hall was reduced to 80 people this summer, because the actors had to use floor space to perform. But the average attendance was just 30 people.

Last year, when the venue was operating normally, latecomers were turned away when there was a full house of 160 people.

Gail understands that the Theatre Club isn’t alone is noticing a reduced turnout for evening events.

She says they’ll need to devise a plan for the future, which might include returning to staging shows on the tradition set days of the week rather than alternating to work around cast commitments.