VIDEO: Celebrating 25 years of Manor panto in Sheffield

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MANOR Operatic is celebrating a milestone in Sheffield - oh yes they are!

“Our pantomimes are a Sheffield institution. People tell us they only come to the theatre once a year and it’s to see us,” said Manor chairman Richard Foster

Manor Operatic launch their Christmas panto, Aladdin at Sheffield's City Hall

Manor Operatic launch their Christmas panto, Aladdin at Sheffield's City Hall

This year’s production is Aladdin and rehearsals for the 40-strong cast are already under way.

“We have a wonderful, enthusiastic young cast, many who grew up watching the shows they’re now performing,” said Richard.

Robert Spink, who plays the Dame, has been performing with Manor Operatic for 12 years.

“Sheffield audiences are amazing, so warm and giving and every year more than 25,000 of them turn out to see us,” said Robert, 45.

“I’ll be coming back every year for as long as they’ll have me.”

Christina Rice, 19, joined Manor a year ago and will play the princess this season. “I grew up with this panto and I love how timeless it is. I already can’t imagine my life without Manor.”

And Manor Operatic isn’t the only one with something to celebrate this year. Sheffield City Hall has a milestone of its own - it’s 80th birthday.

“We’ve had lots of birthday celebrations, but the panto is a major one,” said Richard Hunter, City Hall manager.

“We always know Christmas is just around the corner when Manor shows up to start rehearsals. We see the flagging economy reflected in various ticket sales throughout the year, but the Manor panto never fails to perform.”

Chairman Richard has his own thoughts on why this is: “Panto is a British tradition, there’s nothing else like it,” he explained.

“Other countries simply don’t understand: why is our principal boy played by a girl? Why do we have a dame who’s a man? But panto is ours and we love it.

“It makes us feel good and that’s why it continues to live on year-after-year.”

Aladdin begins December 27.