Panto collapses after director quits
PUBLISHED: 16:00 20 February 2019
A long-standing director of an amateur dramatics group has decided to ‘call it a day’ after running almost 40 performances – placing the venture’s future in doubt.
Tony Winstone dedicated 13 years to running the Long Ashton Pantomime, and he has been described as the ‘bones’ of the operation by his peers.
Manager of the group, Miriam Seager, said it has been ‘an amazing experience for us all’ to be a part of, and hopes in a few years ‘someone will be inspired to fill the panto-shaped hole in the Long Ashton community.’
She said: “Tony directed every one of the 39 performances, even acting in one or two of them, and wrote all but the first two scripts.
“Because of him, and the fantastic support team behind the scenes year after year, a very large number of children and adults were able to enjoy the challenges and excitement of treading on stage boards dressed in wonderful costumes on many magical stage sets.
“Add to that the many people in the audiences who thoroughly enjoyed the shows, and we can say Long Ashton’s panto probably reached out to thousands of people in its time.”
The amateur dramatics group has taken on many productions, including Hansel & Gretel in 2015, Goldilocks in 2017 and Old Mother Hubbard’s Wonderful Cupboard last February.
The group is run by volunteers and was born from The Long Ashton Festival which took place in 2005, and the money raised from the shows was put towards the following year’s production.
She continued: “It’s not an exaggeration to say that for many of the panto’s cast it was the highlight of the year, and they felt part of something special.
“It is not to say there will be no more pantomimes in Long Ashton, we have costumes, sound equipment, lighting, and lots of expertise in our village.
“The infrastructure is in place, and perhaps after a year or two someone somewhere will be inspired to fill the panto-shaped hole in the community.
“It remains only to thank everyone who took part or helped in any way, no matter how large or small whether for just one show or for all of them, it helped to keep it all going.
“The final show in 2018 ended on a real high and it was a fitting way for Tony to finish.
“It has been an amazing experience for us all.”