Sunday, 16 December 2018

Kenton vows to repeat panto next year

THE Kenton’s first ever in-house professional pantomime was such a success this Christmas that theatre trustees have vowed to put

THE Kenton’s first ever in-house professional pantomime was such a success this Christmas that theatre trustees have vowed to put on another in 2013. The 11 performances of Cinderella sold on average 95 per cent of available tickets, which managing director Wendy Bowsher described as “fantastic”.

“I hardly dared hope it would be such a stunning success but the reaction from the people of Henley and the surrounding area was terrific,” she said. “It shows what an important part the theatre can and does play in local life.

“It was the first theatre experience for hundreds of children and they are our audiences of the future. I am delighted.”

Trustees’ chairman Ed Simons said: “We are all delighted that Cinderella was such a success. A lot of people put in a lot of hard work — especially the fantastic cast who were doing two shows in a six-hour period but never once failed to entrance the audience with their professionalism and enthusiasm.

“The same goes for our volunteers without whom we could not have staged the show.

“We shall be back next year as the people of Henley proved they really want their own pantomime in their own theatre.”

Cast, crew and volunteers enjoyed an after-show party at Hotel du Vin after the last curtain call on Saturday night where a special Cinderella cake was cut.

Former Shiplake College pupil Paul Aitchison, who played one of the Ugly Sisters, said: “I loved doing Cinders at the Kenton, working with a great cast and crew and playing to such nice audiences. The production and backstage crew were all fantastic. Our director provided a fun, creative environment where we could test out ideas and turned us from a cast into a close company.”

Paul, who had to learn to sing and dance wearing stilettoes, and was widely credited as stealing the show with the other Ugly Sister, added: “I shall miss being in Henley and doing the panto — although I shall not miss putting on and removing all that make-up.”

Danni Whitten who played Dandini said: “Cinderella was great. The audiences were so enthusiastic and appreciative.

“I’m so sad it’s over but glad we managed to entertain so many people.”

And the show’s director Heather Simpkin said: “I am most pleased with the reaction of the children who came to see the show.

“This ranged from hysterical laughter to sheer awe upon getting close to one of the characters on stage or at a promotional event such as the late night shopping.

“The parents I spoke to seemed happy and grateful that they had something so easily accessible in the town, well priced and thoroughly entertaining without being ‘smutty’ — which I have translated as being traditional and upholding family values.

“That’s something you don’t always get with the big commercial pantos elsewhere.”

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