THEY thought they would have to cancel the pantomime. Oh yes they did.
A historic theatre group which lost thousands of pounds worth of costumes when the roof of their storage room collapsed was preparing to postpone its annual extravaganza for the first time since World War Two.
But now the show will go on. And it’s all thanks to The Diary.
Wales Methodist Panto Players have received donations worth more than £3,500 to buy new outfits after this page highlighted the wardrobe disaster. And the group - which has staged a pantomime in Sheffield and Worksop every year since the mid-Forties - is now glad to say the whole episode is...behind them.
“It was an absolute nightmare,” says director Nick Challenger. “But this has really restored our faith in people and in the love that’s out there for what we do. Now we’ll be using the money on making the space safe again - and, of course, buying costumes for next year’s panto.”
Heavy rain caused the old school room of the Wales-Kiveton Methodist Church, in Kiveton Park, to collapse in June destroying gorilla outfits, mediaeval knight armour, dragon costumes and dame dresses worth thousands. Some individual outfits alone cost £400. Others had been owned by the company for more than 40 years.
And that threw into doubt next year’s performance of Mother Goose - set to take place at Montgomery Theatre, in Surrey Street, on January 10-11 and 17-18.
But Wales Parish Council provided a £3,000 grant after members read about the disaster in The Star. Further donations - from both the public and former cast members - came to £500.
“We simply couldn’t let the show not go on,” says council chairman Michael Brabbs. “This is an institution. I used to go and watch the players when I was a child, and then I took my children, and now they take my grandchildren. They do so much good for the area that when we heard about the problems they’d had, we felt it was something we must support.”
The generosity will enable the players - founded by Roy Staniforth MBE in 1944 - to keep the tradition alive for several years to come.
“We’re so grateful,” adds Nick. “The workmen will be starting in the next couple of weeks. We’re hopeful some costumes will be retrievable but it’s great to know we have money to replace those that aren’t. This will be our 69th annual pantomime on the trot so it would have been so sad to cancel it.”
Tickets for the panto available on 01909 809757