PINCH yourself – there will be a panto this Christmas – and it’s happening just over the road from Redditch, and up the road from Studley.
For against all the odds, and billed as the Pantomime of Your Dreams, ‘Sleeping Beauty’ will take to the stage this December for a fully professional 22 day run at Studley Sports Centre opposite the Washford Mill junction.
It’s all the work of Aunty Jen’s Productions, the theatre company that developed from the Studley Isolation Support Group during the first lockdown.
Led by professional actress, producer and director Jen Stone – whose online lockdown monologues won a legion of fans nationwide – and backed by Arts Council England, it promises to bring delight and laughter to this darkest of years.
“We put everything on hold as we went into lockdown for the second time,” said Jen.
“Then we were given the information that we could go ahead with rehearsals – in person – from November 23 and that, as the Government fully intends for the lockdown to end on December 2, live performances would be permitted from then. Hooray!”
The company first got together this summer to put on Shakespeare’s ‘A Midsummer’s Night Dream’ performed on a lorry trailer at Studley Sports and Social Club.
Now the stars have once again aligned and Jen acknowledged the huge community effort behind the production.
“The help we have had has been tremendous,” she said.
“It’s been about sharing with the community – we have a costume collective of volunteers making the outfits, we’ve got ladies making roses for the Forbidden Forest, lots of help on the technical side, the stewarding, delivering flyers, it’s been incredible.
“And when I saw the email from the Arts Council I cried – small, brand new organisations like ours don’t usually get much help but thanks to their grant it means the actors can be paid properly and appropriately – professionally made, professionally paid.”
Further help came from Studley County Councillor Clive Rickhards who used some of his divisional funds so bolts of cloth could be bought for the costumes and from Warwickshire Community And Voluntary Action which has supported the group throughout.
“The script has been written, we’ve got a music score, my daughter Matilda has done the choreography, we’ve got seven performances at St Mary’s Catholic Primary in Studley and we’re doing about 33 in total,” said Jen.
“We are doing a panto in Studley this Christmas and it is incredible!”
Sleeping Beauty runs from December 12, 2020 to January 3, 2021 at Studley Sports Centre, Abbeyfields Drive. For tickets visit http://www.auntyjenproductions.co.uk
The December 13 performance will be livestreamed for broadcast.