Nothing cleanses the soul like a panto
TONY Nicholls is the best pantomime writer Wembley Theatre Company director Bryce Manning knows.
So it is little surprise the playwright is a constant source of creativity for the community theatre company’s annual production, which this year is Nicholls’ Aladdin.
“This version of Aladdin has been updated recently and flows very well,” Manning said.
“It has a natural, fast pace which is essential to a good panto.
“In the past 21 years of Wembley Theatre Company history we have presented Aladdin four times, but only this recent updated version once.”
Manning said he would be acting, as well as directing the production, stepping into the role of the evil Abanazar.
“What I enjoy about acting is the opportunity to be someone else and Abanazar is certainly someone else,” he said.
“He is quite a nasty character and there really is nothing good in him. His first lines are ‘I am this panto’s wicked villain, my job is to stir the plot and terrify you children’.
“Playing the nasty ones is quite absorbing and I love stirring up the audience, getting them to boo and hiss.”
Manning is part of a cast of 15 who range in age from 12 years old to himself.
He said an enormous amount of work went into producing a pantomime but it was worth it when seeing audience reactions. “Pantos cleanse the soul,” Manning said. “Kids laugh, mums and dads laugh, everyone’s happy at the end of a panto; cast and audience.
“It’s just good old-fashioned family fun.”
Mirela Ionascu (Aladdin), director Bryce Manning, front Suzanne Croston (Genie) and Ruth Burke (Princess).