Doncaster’s gorgeous Georgian Mansion House was once again the scene of an absolutely magical ‘Panto in a Day’, as we ended 2015 in style!
This year’s Christmas panto workshop was based on the story of Aladdin from one of this year’s DBA ‘classics’ book list, Arabian Nights. However, our (very funny!) adaption was written and led by James Worthington and his colleagues Gerry, Rhiannon, and Jo from the fantastic Talegate Theatre Company, and with their input and inspiration the children tapped into the magic and most definitely made the story their own!
Over 30 children, aged from just 3 up to 15 years, and from all over Doncaster, converged on the Mansion House on a damp Wednesday morning, some looking around slightly nervously to begin with as their parents said goodbye and they went to sit together under the fabulous chandeliers of the main ballroom. However, within minutes everyone (including the committee!) were on their feet, laughing and jumping around energetically as they joined in the warm-up session. The atmosphere and sense of fun created from the outset by James and his team was so enjoyable that by the time it was time to start work on the main activities it was as if the young people there had always known each other!
As the day went on, the children worked amazingly hard, firstly learning the words, steps and stage positions for the big opening number, ‘I’ve got Bills’. They then broke up into four smaller groups, each of which learnt and practised two complete scenes which, when performed in order, together told the whole story of Aladdin and his magic lamp. This way of working meant that more than one child could play the main parts of Aladdin and the villain, his evil ‘uncle’ Abanazar. We did, however, have just one Widow Twanky, whose very unique methods (Splishy- sploshy, dryeee-wyeee, foldy-woldy) meant that you very definitely would not want her and her assistants doing your laundry!! All those taking part helped and supported one another throughout, so that the day absolutely flew past and it seemed no time at all till parents and families were climbing the magnificent staircase ready to watch the show.
The performance itself went off (almost!) without a hitch from the first dance to the final bow, with lots of applause, laughter and audience participation throughout. The children really did themselves and Talegate proud. We said goodbye to lots of delighted parents and children, many of whom want to do it all again next year. One parent later texted
"------ had a fabulous time, I was worried as he didn’t know a single person but on the way home he said he’d like to come again! So thank you again from ------------’s Mum"
The Committee also really enjoyed the day and would like to very much thank Talegate Theatre and also Paulo Marelli and his staff and volunteers from the Mansion House for all their help. It was fab, and we hope to come again next Christmas!
Secretary, Doncaster Book Awards Committee
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