ONCE upon a time, the Blue Light Theatre Company expected to do a pantomime only once.
Instead, the York company is to stage its eighth panto next January. “Not bad, considering the first one was supposed to be a one-off,” says writer Perri-Ann Barley, who is joined in the production team by director Craig Barley and additional scriptwriter Steven Clark.
“We’ve worked out that since we began fundraising in 2012, we’ve managed to raise more than £25,000 for charity, which we’re very proud of. This year, we’ll continue to support the York branch of the MND (Motor Neurone Disease) Association and York Against Cancer.
As the name would indicate, the Blue Light Theatre Company is no ordinary theatrical enterprise, especially when set against the backdrop of the pandemic. “Most of our cast either work for Yorkshire Ambulance Service or the NHS, so this show has already given us many challenges since I first wrote it in early 2020,” says Perri.
“It has been, and continues to be, a very busy and trying time, and obtaining shift swaps to attend rehearsals hasn’t been easy. Our choreographer, Devon Wells, is expecting a baby, due any time now, which is exciting, but this meant we’ve had to set all the dance routines in a short space of time.
“That’s certainly tested the cast but Devon has managed to keep going with as much energy as always. That baby will definitely come out dancing! We’re letting her have a rest now but she’ll be back in time for the show.”
The company has elected Julie Shrimpton as dance captain to keep things going while Devon is away. “Despite all the challenges, we are all loving being back together, performing and generally having fun, which is what panto is all about, and I hope that comes across in our performance in January,” says Perri.
“We’ve missed theatre so much in what’s been an awful time, but we’re delighted to be finally back rehearsing and it’s going really well. We can’t wait to welcome back our regular supporters and hopefully some new audience members too.”
Blue Lights’s fun-filled, fast-paced, time-travelling adventure, Once Upon A Time, will be performed at Acomb Working Men’s Club on January 21 and 26 to 28 at 7.30pm, plus a January 22 matinee at 1pm.
How will the plot unfold, Perri, in this “completely original and brand-new story”? “The Fairy Godmother has lost her magic powers,” she says. “She enlists the help of a local inventor, and his new time machine, to go back in time in the hope of preventing the villainous Phillipe Fogg from stealing them, but will they succeed?
“This panto is a chance to witness the journeys of our weird and wonderful characters throughout time; sing and dance along to a vast array of music from different eras, and watch out for surprises, twists and turns along the way.”
Tickets will go on sale from Monday (25/10/202) at £10, concessions £8, children £5, at bluelight-theatre.co.uk, on 07933 329654 or from cast members. A fund-raising raffle with prizes will be held at each performance.