Manning up for it
IT takes six months of planning and preparation by director Bryce Manning to present Wembley Theatre Company’s annual pantomime, so every year for the past 21 years he declares it will be the last.
“I say it to anyone who will listen and they respond with ‘sure, you say that every year’ and then we go on,” Manning, of Wembley, said.
“The Wembley Theatre panto has become an institution and people expect it.
“Also being involved in the production brings a lot of joy to the cast and crew, especially the children, and when the show is in full swing and I’m prancing about on stage and the audience is glued to their seats, there is nowhere else I’d rather be.”
This year’s pantomime is Sleeping Beauty, written by Tony Nicholls, which the company previously presented seven years ago.
Manning said the popular panto offered a clear, simple storyline.
“Tony commented on how difficult it was to write a play where the cen- tral character mostly sleeps and where the prince stumbles upon her by accident,” he said.
“So he came up with a back story where the Sleeping Beauty of the first half is matched by a sleeping ugliness revealed in the second half.
“This provides a context and frame for the core narrative of the story. The prince also has his own story, which runs parallel to the 100-year sleep of the princess.”
The cast of 15, including Manning playing a small cameo role as Captain Nelson, has been helped this year with funding from Lotterywest and the Cambridge council to upgrade the lighting system and install a new stage curtain.
Wembley Theatre Company will present the main season of Sleeping Beauty at Wembley Community Centre from October 12 to November 3, with a country performance in Kulin on October 20 and additional show at Don Russell Performing Arts Centre, Thornlie, on November 4.
“Pantomimes are a great way to cleanse the soul,” Manning said.
Wembley Theatre Company will present the pantomime Sleeping Beauty.