WEMBLEY Theatre Company director Bryce Manning has stated after every pantomime for the past 20 years that it would be his last, but all the challenges are forgotten by the following year and he returns for more.
“The company began as an acting class for adults and quickly moved into a production format,” Manning said.
“Putting on plays worked and each year we would bring in new actors, new backstage people and get the show rolling again; what I love about the company is the wonderful family of friends we have created.
“Everyone has a memory of some event or happenings that occurred in this or that panto/play over the past 20 years. We’ve had divorces, marriages, births, heart attacks and hangovers, but more importantly, we have all shared a love of theatre and a passion for being on stage.”
Old Mother Hubbard was the first pantomime Wembley Theatre Company performed in 1997 and the company has revisited the work for its 20th anniversary year, following support from Town of Cambridge for the past 10 years.
He said playwright Tony Nicholls had created a masterpiece with this pantomime.
“In Old Mother Hubbard Tony has reached his pinnacle as a panto writer and I haven’t changed a word,” Manning said.
“As we all know, Old Mother Hubbard is poor and has no food in the cupboard and no bone for poor dog Woolly, so she decides to marry her daughter Polly off to the rich Duke.
“But Polly doesn’t want to marry the horrible Duke, she wants to marry Dick the Woodchopper’s son, who is poor but knows where the lost treasure of Arwon is.
“So what follows is a mad romp of everyone searching for the treasure, thinking money will solve all their problems. In the end they all learn it’s not money but love that is the panacea.”
The cast of 15 includes eight young actors and Manning, who is playing the role of sleazy Duke Ferdinand.
He said watching a pantomime was a cleansing process, washing away all the bad news seen on television.
“It replaces it with laughter, wit and positive thoughts,” he said.
“It’s a happy time to share with your family.”
What: Old Mother Hubbard
Where and when: Wembley Community Centre, October 27-November 12 and Don Russell Performing Arts Centre, November 5