Man­ning up for it

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Stage - Tanya Macnaughton

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.

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