Red light for Blue Light Theatre Company’s 2021 pantomime after Covid call-off

The Blue Light Theatre Company cast for Oh! What A Circus at Acomb Working Men’s Club in January 2021

THE Blue Light Theatre Company are now the ‘red light’ company after stopping their upcoming winter pantomime in response to the Coronavirus crisis.

In an official statement, the York performers explain: “Due to the ongoing situation with Covid-19, we regret that we are unable to bring you our annual pantomime in January 2021. We have not taken this decision lightly but the safety of our cast and audience must be our main concern.

“However, we do plan to return later in 2021/2022 with more great performances while raising money for our chosen charities. We would like to thank you all for your continued support. Stay safe and well and we look forward to seeing you next year.”

Regular writer and co-producer Perri Ann Barley is keeping the show’s title under wraps until Blue Light resume pantomime business, hopeful of being given the green light for performances at Acomb Working Men’s Club in January 2022.

Company member Mark Friend adds: “We’re also hoping to perform a play in Summer 2021, but no decision has been made yet as to what due to the uncertainty that lies before us.”

Blue Light Theatre Company are so named on account of being made up of paramedics, ambulance dispatchers and York Hospital staff, as well as members of York’s theatre scene.

Last January, they presented Oh! What A Circus, a show replete with fairy-tale characters such as Pinocchio, Geppetto, Rapunzel, Red Riding Hood, Tinkerbell and Hansel and Gretel, in aid of York Against Cancer and Motor Neurone Disease (York).

Christine swaps making panto costumes for sewing wash bags for frontline workers

The Blue Light Theatre Company pantomime costume maker Christine Friend turning her hand to sewing wash bags for NHS frontline workers

CHRISTINE Friend normally would be making costumes for The Blue Light Theatre Company’s pantomime in York. Now she is turning her skills instead to sewing for frontline workers in the ongoing Coronavirus crisis.

She is among a group of volunteers from York, Harrogate and Knaresborough that has come together via Facebook to make uniform wash bags out of anything from pillowcases to old duvet covers.

“They’re making the bags for all our Blue Light Theatre NHS friends and their colleagues,” says Christine’s husband, Mark, actor and publicist for Blue Light Theatre, a company made up of paramedics, ambulance dispatchers, York Hospital staff and members of York’s theatre scene.

“The idea is that after a shift, frontline workers can remove their uniform at work, put it straight into the bag, then close it tight and pop it into their washing machine when they get home to prevent cross-contamination.”

In the bag: Joanne Halliwell and her daughter Abbey, who set up the Bag The Bug group for York, Harrogate and Knaresborough

The Facebook group Bag The Bug – Covid 19 – York, Harrogate & Knaresborough was set up a couple of weeks ago by Joanne Halliwell and her daughter Abbey. “They were wanting something to do during lockdown and found a group called Bag The Bug, based in the north west, who were making the bags for NHS staff in Bolton.

“They decided to make some bags too and after talking to the group’s coordinator, they set up a group locally.”

They had an immediate response, from people asking for the bags, others offering to donate material, sew, help to coordinate Bag The Bug and to drive for the group.

In a fortnight, more than 300 North Yorkshire members have sent 1,850 bags to care homes, NHS staff, GP surgeries, ambulance stations and hospitals.

Adrian Deligny: One of the frontline workers who has received a Bag The Bug wash bag

Co-organiser Joanne says: “I think it just shows how, in times of need, everyone can pull together and do their bit. The community spirit has most certainly come out, which is wonderful. Whether people have sewn ten pillowcases or 100, or have donated one duvet cover or ten, every little helps.”

As the demand for the bags continues to grow, Adrian Deligny is among the care workers who have received bags. “The uniform bag is an excellent idea in order to help stop the spread of the virus at home,” he says.

“Before this, I was putting everything in a bin bag, which wasn’t the best. It is important that during these difficult times everybody is united. This project has shown an unparalleled demonstration of solidarity and generosity. My wife and I are extremely grateful.”

If any organisation requires bags, or if anyone wishes to donate material (it must be able to be washed at over 60c), or can help in any other way, please contact Joanne Halliwell. Do this either via the group’s Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/groups/240401817107890/ or by email to bagthebugyhk@gmail.com

Blue Light Theatre Company raise £3,000 for York Against Cancer and Motor Neurone Disease Association

The Blue Light Theatre Company members with representatives of York Against Cancer and the Motor Neurone Disease Association (York) at the cheque presentation at York’s Ambulance Station. All pictures:: Scott Atkinson

THE Blue Light Theatre Company took to the stage once again in January at Acomb Working Men’s Club, York, to raise money for York charities York Against Cancer and Motor Neurone Disease Association (York).

“We’re thrilled to announce that we managed to match last year’s amount of £3,000 – despite our production costs rising,” says cast member Mark Friend, who played Pinocchio in Oh! What A Circus on January 24, 25 and 29 to 31.

“The money raised has been split equally between the two charities. We’ve received fantastic support from many of North Yorkshire’s tourist attractions and businesses; without their generous support, we would not have been able to raise this amount.”

The Blue Light Theatre Company in Oh! What A Circus at Acomb Working Men’s Club

Oh! What A Circus was the seventh pantomime performed by The Blue Light Theatre Company, made up of paramedics, ambulance dispatchers, York Hospital staff and members of York’s theatre scene,  who have raised well over £10,000 over those years.

Writer and co-producer Perri Ann Barley says: “It’s great to see our audience come back year after year to support us, plus lots of new audience as the word gets around just how good our productions are.

“Work is already underway for Panto 2021 and the challenge is on to make it even bigger and better than the last. The title will be announced later in the year”.

Mark Friend, as Pinocchio, in Oh! What A Circus

Last Wednesday, the Blue Light company met representatives from York Against Cancer and Motor Neurone Disease Association (York) MNDA at York’s Ambulance Station to present them with their cheques.

Julie Russell, from York Against Cancer, says: “Thank you very much for this generous donation. It will help us make a difference to cancer patients and their families’ lives. The Blue Light Theatre Company really do know how to put ‘fun’ into fundraising. Thank you.”

In the cheque presentation picture are Julie Russell, from York Against Cancer; James Chambers, Jen Dodd, Colin Pearson and Val Corder, from MNDA (York) and The Blue Light Theatre Company’s Zoe Paylor, Perri Ann Barley, Christine Friend, Beth Waudby, Mark Friend, Devon Wells, Mick Waudby, Craig Barley and Glen Gears.