'It really is wonderful to be a part of' - Barkway Players celebrate 25th anniversary

PUBLISHED: 14:56 01 February 2017 | UPDATED: 15:06 01 February 2017

The Barkway Players.

The Barkway Players.

Archant

An amateur dramatics group are commemorating a milestone year of pantomimes in Barkway with a special anniversary show - and it all started as a small fundraising effort to raise money for the village hall 25 years ago.

Rob Squire, Edwin Kilby, Lily Tibbals-Roberts, Paul Samways, Jenny Warren and Carol MacKay. Rob Squire, Edwin Kilby, Lily Tibbals-Roberts, Paul Samways, Jenny Warren and Carol MacKay.

The Barkway Players were co-founded by Edwin Kilby who saw the hall was in need of some repair back in 1992.

“A few of us thought it might be nice to raise some money for the hall, so we had a small idea to put on a Songs from the Shows event,” he said. “We put a leaflet through all the doors in the village saying ‘do to want to be a star?’”

They had such a response that the small group decided to put on a whole show for people to enjoy, and Witch Way to the Wizard was that first offering.

“We have had the show recorded each year,” Edwin said.

Back row, Edwin Kilby, Jenny Warren, Carol Mackay, Paul Samways, and front row, Rob Squire, Lily Tibbals-RobertsBack row, Edwin Kilby, Jenny Warren, Carol Mackay, Paul Samways, and front row, Rob Squire, Lily Tibbals-Roberts

“And after watching the video of that first show in January 1993, I can say things have very much moved on – we have much more sophisticated choreography these days!

“We thought we might last maybe two years, but people kept coming back every year.”

Barkway’s ‘silver jubilee season’ show pays homage to that first performance.

Return to Oz will feature the well-loved Wizard of Oz characters in a new story dreamed up, as usual, by the Barkway Players themselves.

Some of the most memorable personalities from previous Barkway pantos will make return appearances so the audience could well encounter ugly sisters and mermaids on the way to finding the wizard.

“I love this time of year,” Edwin added. “You can see how many people are involved with everybody in the village hall – there’s a real buzz around the place.

“We always have a junior cast too – and there are plenty of backstage roles too.

“We may not always sell out but we are lucky it’s continued to do so well.

“It would be nice to think we are still around for the next milestone, 30 years. It really is wonderful to be a part of.”

The show’s director Tom Wornham said: “This panto will be a real treat for everyone, with laughs, music and dancing, and more audience participation than ever.

“It’s going to be a memorable occasion – and a show not to be missed!”

Return to Oz will be performed at Barkway Village Hall tomorrow at 8pm, and twice on Saturday at 2pm and 8pm.

Tickets are available from the box office on 01763 848347 or go to www.barkwayplayers.org.uk.

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