Blue Light Theatre Company match the weather in frosty fairytale pantomime adventure Nithered! at Acomb WMC

The Three Pigs in Blue Light Theatre Company’s Nithered!: Simon Moore, left, Kevin Bowes and Kristian Barley   

BLUE Light Theatre Company’s tenth anniversary pantomime, Nithered!, is a frosty fairytale adventure by regular writer Perri Ann Barley to match the wintry weather in York.

The ongoing run at Acomb Working Men’s Club, Front Street, Acomb, continues with a 1pm matinee today and 7.30pm performances from January 24 to 26.

Formed by Yorkshire Ambulance Service staff, they performed their debut pantomime in 2013. “It was supposed to be a ‘one-off’ production to raise funds for a colleague who had been diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease but was so successful that it’s still going to this day, and we’ve even branched out into performing plays too,” says Nithered! director Craig Barley.

“Since that first panto, more than £22,000 has been raised for our chosen charities: the Motor Neurone Disease Association (York) and York Against Cancer. Extra performances have been added over the years to accommodate more people, due to our shows’ ever-growing popularity, and there’s also a waiting list for people wanting to join the cast.

Acomb Working Men’s Club has housed the show since 2013. “It’s been our home for so long as they gave us the space for free for so many years, so we could maximise our charitable donations,” says Craig.

“We can seat 200 and offer use of the bar, meaning a relaxed performance which has received so much good feedback. New audience members are pleasantly surprised when they arrive and see the size, layout and the room all dressed up accordingly – putting them immediately at ease and into the panto spirit.”

All ten pantomimes have utilised the same production team: co-producers Perri and Craig, alongside choreographer Devon Wells and stage manager Dave Holiday. “Between us, so much has been achieved on the tiny stage at Acomb Working Men’s Club, from magic carpets to levitating witches!” says Craig.

The (Riding) Hoods in Nithered!: Kathryn Donley, left, Chelsea Hutchinson and Kalayna Barley

The cast still consists of Yorkshire Ambulance staff along with other talented performers from in and around York.

“We like to do things a little differently, creating a brand-new storyline every year, among other things,” says Craig. “But at the same time adding some traditional elements, such as the Dame, played by Steven Clark, who writes additional script material too, and the villain, Glen Gears, who has been with the company since the very beginning. Both of them are very much audience favourites.”

Introducing the storyline in Nithered!, Craig says: “The usually bright and happy village has been shrouded in a permanent frost by the evil Snow Queen (played by Perri Ann Barley), who has enlisted the Big Bad Wolf’ (Glen Gears) to govern the land on her behalf and to keep the population down.

“Mother Goose (Brenda Riley) and the villagers are struggling to cope with the never-ending winter and, with the Wolf around, they are living in constant fear for their safety. Things take a dramatic turn when one of the Three Pigs (Simon Moore, Kevin Bowes, Kristian Barley) is kidnapped by the Wolf.”

Whereupon the villagers decide to take matters into their own hands and head out on a very risky rescue mission. They enlist the help of the Fairy Godmother (Steven Clark), who finds herself in a face-off with the Snow Queen herself, but who will prove to be the most powerful?

“Will the villagers overcome the Big Bad Wolf? Will the everlasting winter come to an end? To find out, come join us and step right into the weird but wonderful world of Nithered!,” says Craig.

The Three Bears in Blue Light Theatre Company’s pantomime: Linden Horwood, left, Harry Martin and Richard Rogers

The cast also features Richard Rogers, Linden Horwood, Julie Shrimpton, Nicky Moore, Pat Mortimer, Zoe Paylor, Chelsea Hutchinson, Kalayna Barley, Kathryn Donley and Harry Martin, plus new members Aileen Stables and Audra Bryan.

“With this being our tenth anniversary, the team have really gone all out to give the audience an amazing experience and cannot wait for everyone to see it.”

Looking ahead, this summer Blue Light will present Murder At Reptilian Park, a new comedy murder mystery by Perri Ann Barley, to be staged in conjunction with the Galtres Centre in Easingwold. “It will run there from June 20 to 22, including a Saturday matinee, bringing us a whole new audience and new challenges,” says Craig. Tickets will be on sale soon on 01347 822472 or at

“Perri masterfully crafts our unique pantos, giving audiences new and interesting storylines featuring some familiar characters, which take them away from some of the other tired classic panto stories to give our audiences an experience like no other, ” says Craig. “That’s why so many return year after year.

“Perri is now working with London Playwrights [a resource for emerging playwrights] as she branches out to try and make her passion for writing a career. Not only this, but she’s also in talks with another professional theatre in Yorkshire, but more about that later.”

Blue Light Theatre Company in Nithered!, Acomb Working Men’s Club, Front Street, Acomb, York, January 20, 1pm; January 24 to 26, 7.30pm. Tickets: £12 adults, £10 concessions, £8 children. Box office: 07933 329654 or All proceeds go to Motor Neurone Disease Association York and York Against Cancer.