Witley Pantomime Company - join the club

Based in Witley, near Godalming, the Witley Pantomime Company has been keeping the people of Surrey entertained for more than 50 years (well, apart from the time the audience was nearly wiped out with a flying cannonball, that is...)

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine January 2011

Based in Witley, near Godalming, the Witley Pantomime Company has been keeping the people of Surrey entertained for more than 50 years (well, apart from the time the audience was nearly wiped out with a flying cannonball, that is…)

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Name of club: Witley Pantomime Company Location: Chichester Hall, Petworth Road, Witley In a nutshell: An amateur dramatic club that puts on a pantomime annually and other productions occasionally. Person interviewed: Elvie Carpenter Role in group: Chairman Member of club for: 20 years Joined because... My daughter was already a member and I wanted to show off, too!

When was the club set up?  The club was formed in 1957 with the first production being performed in January 1958.

How often do you meet? From September to January, we meet on Monday evenings, although from November until production we meet twice a week for rehearsals etc. The rest of the year, we try to meet up on a monthly basis and often get together because of participating in other events such as the Godalming Town Carnival. We also do a performance for the Chase children’s hospice Family Day.

What’s the best thing about being a member?  The chance to meet with people that have the same interests as you and being part of the community – plus having fun, being able to be a drama queen and star in your own ten minutes of fame!

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Do you find being surrounded by like-minded people inspiring? It is great listening to all the members and their interpretation of each show. Each of them has so much to give and any producer or director always relies on the other members being able to contribute in that way. The members make the company what it is today, and with everyone having an active interest in stage shows, from straight plays to pantomime and West End musicals to the local school nativity, the like-mindedness means more creativeness.

How many members are there? We currently have approximately 30 adult members and 15 junior members.

Do you have links with other clubs as well? We are members of NODA (the National Operatic and Dramatic Association) and although we don’t have links with any other clubs we do take a healthy active interest in other amateur dramatics groups in the area.

What’s the most interesting story from the group’s history? The show’s drummer, John Sherrington, has been part of the company for more than 30 years. During his other spare time, he is a train driver at Thorpe Park during the summer months and is Father Christmas at the O2 arena! And still a sprightly 70+!

…and the funniest? An endless list of funny moments spring to mind but among the best are the time when the scenery wasn’t changed correctly and the forest ended up in Mr Tumnus’s house and Mrs Beaver forgot to appear at the party because she was having coffee in the kitchen! On another occasion, a cannonball was dropped from the stage and bounced into the audience! Saturday night performances (the last show) are notorious for clangers!

When is your next event that is open to the public?The next show runs from Wednesday January 26 to Saturday January 29, 2011, and is Romeo & Juliet, The Pantomime. New members are always welcome and can get in touch with me at info@witleypanto.org.uk

Describe your club in five words...Enthusiastic, fun, lively, friendly and exciting!

For more on the Witley Pantomime Company, call them on 01428 684812 or e-mail info@witleypanto.org.uk

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