Oh yes, panto was a success

Melissa Walton as Dick and Lucie-Mae Sumner as Alice in the panto Dick Whittington at Lowther Pavilion, Lytham
Melissa Walton as Dick and Lucie-Mae Sumner as Alice in the panto Dick Whittington at Lowther Pavilion, Lytham

THE team behind the Lowther Pavilion’s professional panto has vowed to maintain and even possibly extend community involvement in the production next year.

As the curtain came down on a 35-performance run of Dick Whittington and His Cat at the Lytham venue, the producers declared it a great success and are now looking forward to staging Mother Goose at Lowther next December.

Dick Whittington featured more than 200 youngsters in supporting roles and chorus as the involvement of the local community in the production was extended to include performers from three Fylde and Blackpool-based dance schools.

The youngsters featured on a rota basis alongside Melissa Walton, who played the title role, and her professional colleagues and writer and director Tim Lince said he was delighted with how the casting system had worked.

For the first time, the panto also included performers from the St Annes-based Ormerod Drama Group, made up of people with learning difficulties, and Tim was so impressed by their contribution that they are likely to feature in the next panto as well as having a production of their own staged at Lowther some time this year.

“I was delighted with how Dick Whittington went from every point of view,” said Tim.

“Box office figures were very similar to the previous year, when we staged Jack and the Beanstalk, but in a year which saw a general 19 per cent drop in theatre attendances across the country, that counts as a great success.

“I was also especially pleased with the way we got the community involved more than ever, with the young cast members brought in from three dance schools and members of the Ormerod Drama Group taking part.

“We will certainly keep that going in the next panto and may even look to extend it.

“The cast were all delighted with how the production went and the audience reaction was excellent throughout.”

n Interviews for a new manager at Lowther are set to be held next week. The post has been vacant – with Lowther Trust acting chairman Tim sitting in – since Isabelle Leclerq resigned in the summer.

The job was readvertised in the autumn after no suitable candidates were found. A new shortlist of seven face a first round of interviews on Monday.