It’s been a long time coming, but Whitley Chapel in Northumberland is this year’s Pantomime champion.
The club has made the national final for nine years out of the last 19 – and three out of the last four – but has never picked up first prize. Until now.
Their production – The Good, The Bad & The Panto – delighted judges and the audience at the national performing arts finals, sponsored by Massey Ferguson.
David Burn, who was also nominated for best actor for his portrayal of baddie El Loco, said: “It’s great to get up there and win first prize.
“We’ve got a young cast and, after practising for twice a week for five months, we’ve become really close. This is my final year, but hopefully the rest of the cast will continue the good work.”
Dan Nixon, who was one of the two producers of the panto, added: “It’s been a rollercoaster of emotions. It’s been such a lot of work – as well as all the rehearsing, there’s been all the scenery and costumes to organise. And all the paperwork for National!
But it has all been worth it. All the parents have been really supportive. It’s a ten-hour bus ride to get to Torquay and we really appreciate all that they’ve given us.”
The winner of the Best Actor Award was Aeron Powell from Aberedw YFC in Radnor, who played Mother Hubbard in The Magic Bone, which was placed second. He said: “It was a big team effort and a brilliant experience.”
The Best Actress was Holly Gilbert, the Squirrel in Cheriton and Tedburn YFC’s production of Re-hooded, which was placed third.
Holly, from Devon, said: “I really enjoy acting, so it’s great to win the award. It’s a lot of hard work – we’ve been rehearsing three times a week – but it’s all worth it.”