Kate Durcan from London Pantomimers looks ahead to what might be the drama group’s last show at the Intimate Theatre
With rehearsals well underway for our 2018 Christmas show Wizard of Oz – The Pantomime, news that our home for nearly 50 years is to be demolished hit us hard.
The London Pantomimers have performed at the Intimate Theatre for decades. Our drama group was conceived in 1944 by local scouts seeking to raise funds and lift the spirits of the local community amid the despair of the Second World War. That year, a cast of more than 40 performed Jack and the Beanstalk at Trinity-at-Bowes Methodist Church, Palmerston Road, charging three pence for entry.
That was the start of something truly special; a group of performers bringing pantomime to Palmers Green each year for no other reason than a mutual love of theatre – collecting audience donations for local charities along the way.
In 1970 the London Pantomimers transferred to the Intimate Theatre in Green Lanes, where we have performed the annual Christmas pantomime ever since. Today, we are stronger than ever, last year even winning the ‘Best Panto’ award for this area from the National Operatic and Dramatic Association.
With such a strong heritage, we are more than just a theatre company, we are a family, and the Intimate is our home. Our cast and crew of 50-plus comprise a live performance band, scriptwriters, set builders, costume designers, marketing team, technicians, and an ever-growing pool of talented performers.
Secretary and one-time performer Elaine Alles, now in her 38th consecutive show, says: “It is great to see the enjoyment on the faces of all the people involved, both on stage and behind the scenes, but also everyone in the audience. It keeps me young and I have made many friends over the years.”
This year actually marks our first departure from the traditional pantomime tale. Wizard of Oz will bring a panto twist to an iconic story, in an original script by Colin Dowland and Ian James.
It is our most ambitious production yet, promising a feast for the eyes and ears, admittedly placing huge demands on our wonderful costume and set designers, who always rise to the challenge!
Director and producer Sylvia Orsi says: “I’m incredibly excited about this production, which is packed with fantastic musical numbers and plenty of audience participation that is sure to have everyone singing along. It’s an honour to be directing such an amazing group of people.”
However, our biggest drama is still to come. When this run ends on 15th December, we may well be taking our final bow at Intimate Theatre. This year alone, we will have performed to a total audience number in the thousands, across eleven shows, rebutting those who question the theatre’s attendance and usage.
Demolishing the Intimate threatens to bring the curtain down on 73 years of performances – and a Christmas tradition for many local families. But we are determined to go on. Somewhere, over the rainbow, dreams come true.