Grange panto debut curtain raiser to year of entertainment

IF you still have a smile on your face while people all round are suffering the January blues, chances are a Christmas pantomime formed part of the festive fun.

There were plenty to choose this year but Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs debuting at the Grange Arts Centre went down well with Oldham audiences.The show was created by prolific pantomime producer Anton Benson, who has already booked in a return to the Grange at the end of the year with Sleeping Beauty (December 11-31).

Indeed, the venue is set to host a variety of shows in the coming months.

A Take That Tribute night takes place on Saturday, March 7, there is an appearance by the evergreen Oldham Tinkers on March 14 while Basil Brush will be the star of The Wizard of Oz, an Easter panto on Friday, April 3.

Before the hard-working cast of Snow White packed up wigs, costumes and props for a final time, the Correspondent caught up with two frontline stars.

Former B’Wiched singer Edele Lynch and one-time Britain’s Got Talent runner-up Ronan Parke played Wicked Queen Morgana and Prince Charming respectively.

Both were impressed by the venue and enthusiastic audiences.

“I have never seen a panto with a stage like this when you are so close and on the same level as the audience,” said Ronan.

“When I saw the theatre I thought they had made a massive mistake. But once the show started it only added to the atmosphere.

“If anything, the audience gets more involved because they are so close.

“Even the people at the back are fairly close because it is such an intimate venue.”

Edele added: “This was my first time to Oldham and the audience were really loud and up for it.

“As the Wicked Queen I give Snow White a poisoned apple and one kid shouted out ‘Can I have one?’”

Wirral-based Edele relished her role as public enemy number one.

“When Anton contacted me I asked if he was looking for me to do Snow White,” she laughed.

“But no, it is the wicked queen which I do so well. Besides, I don’t really want to play Snow White either because I don’t think I would be that convincing.

“Singing is my thing but I love acting and I would really like to do some more.”

Ronan added: “Panto is a lot of fun. Every show is rewarding, especially when the youngsters leave so happy with big smiles on their faces. All you want to do is bring joy.”

Edele agreed: “Panto is enduring, it is easy and it is fool proof.

“You just sit back and allow the cast to entertain you and you will laugh

“There is not that much amount of pressure on the cast because it is about having fun and a laugh.

“Even when you make a mistake the audience love to see that.

“So, you let yourself know you have made one and just carrying on slagging yourself off. Everyone should go to a pantomime.”

• For ticket details of all new shows visit the website GrangeTheatre.co.uk

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