Missed going to the panto over the Christmas and New Year period?
Well now’s your chance to enjoy a summer version as Highcliffe Charity Players are celebrating their 50th birthday with Treasure Island at the Regent Centre, Christchurch, from 29-31 July.
As usual, profits will go to local charities and there’s a reduced-price ticket offer for front line workers and their families of £9.99 on the opening night.
This swashbuckling one-act adventure sees our courageous hero Jim, his feisty girlfriend Felicity and outrageous mother Ma Hawkins embark on a quest for buried treasure. But they are pursued by the treacherous Long John Silver and his band of pirates, who are determined to have the treasure all for themselves, whatever the cost.
So, it’s all aboard the good ship ‘Hispaniola’ for another slick, fast-moving HCP production with the usual magical quota of music, mayhem, slapstick humour and plenty of audience participation. Oh yes you will!
Returning to direct and continue the family tradition is Matthew Smith, whose late father, Tony Smith, co-founded the Players in 1971 and was their renowned Dame for 25 years.
Matthew said: “Fifty years ago a group of parents, including my Dad, got together to put on a show to raise money for a local dancing school; the show was a success, the money was raised, the performers had as much fun as the audience and Highcliffe Charity Players was born. I’ve proudly seen the company grow from strength to strength and delight panto-goers over generations, first at St Mark’s Hall in Highcliffe, and then from 1986 at the Regent Centre.”
Matthew’s wife, HCP chairman, Georgina Smith said: “We were, of course, disappointed not to be able to perform our annual Christmas panto because of lockdown, but feel privileged and excited to be the first live show back at the Regent in July. We chose ‘Treasure Island’ as it is the perfect sea-side, summer adventure. And we are fortunate to have our own resident writer, Stephen Hutt, to create a script especially for us, full of the amusing contemporary touches and topical references that local family audiences so enjoy.”
The cast includes many HCP favourites but taking on the lovable hero, Jim, is 23-year-old John-Luke Greenacre who is appearing in his first panto. Playing opposite him as Jim’s sweetheart Felicity is Ellie Tripp.
HCP have had their share of vibrant, larger-than-life Dames, and strutting his stuff this time around as Jim’s Mum, Ma Hawkins, is HCP veteran Malcolm George.
Everyone loves to boo the panto baddie and Mark Ward, who plays the wicked Pirate Captain, Long John Silver, is a master of the craft.
Long John Silver’s silly, loveable pirates, Rosey and Gilly are played by HCP favourites Georgina Smith and Pete Whitaker, who are guaranteed to keep the audience in fits of laughter. Felicity’s bumbling but kindly father, Squire Trelawney is performed by Chris Moore, and Marina the Mermaid, who brings a touch of fairy magic to the proceedings, is played by HCP stalwart, Tracey Taylor-Jenkins.
Returning to choreograph is Tilly Ingle, a teacher at LEAP Dance in Southbourne who also works on cruise ships and appears in professional shows.
Completing the production team is HCP’s musical director, Stuart Darling, heading the live panto band.
‘Treasure Island’ runs at the Regent Centre for four performances, including a Saturday matinee, from 29-31 July. Tickets: £13.50, concessions £12.50 and key worker offer £9.99 (for the 29th), on sale at the Regent Centre Box Office (01202 499199) and online: www.regentcentre.co.uk
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