Leighton Buzzard Drama Group finds new ways to bring back pantomine!

Like many professional venues, amateur theatre has also been forced to ‘go dark’ due to the ongoing pandemic.

Friday, 11th December 2020, 12:26 pm
Updated Friday, 11th December 2020, 12:30 pm

However, the Leighton Buzzard Drama Group, an amateur theatre company famous for usually selling out 15 panto performances each year at their local town theatre, has found new ways to revive the panto spirit using the latest technology.

Working with local script writer Jim Fowler, this award-winning group commissioned a bespoke version of Robin Hood, calling it ‘Ye Olde Zoome Panto’. But instead of just a live ‘Zoom’ type performance, the group are using green screen technology and a recording studio to pre-record and produce the show.

Director of this new production, Jo Taylor, said that this was not without its challenges. “A cast of 11 rehearsed over Zoom, each from their own homes,” said Jo, “with the idea that we would swap the computer camera for a proper camera once we got into the recording studio.”

Panto Sheriff
Panto Sheriff

Was rehearsing online difficult? “At times,” laughs Jo. “Along with the typical sound delays and frozen screens, we also had children and pets disrupting rehearsals and one time, a neighbour banging on the wall asking the Sheriff of Nottingham to keep the noise down!”

Recording took place following socially distanced guidelines – with one person at a time being filmed in front of a green screen.

“This was a whole new creative process for us,” continues Jo. “In many ways, it was great to try out what is essentially TV acting. We would never have done this had it not been for the pandemic.”

Chairperson of LBDG, Colin Aldous – who also stars in this latest production as Friar Tuck, said: “What started as a relatively simple concept – a simple online Zoom panto reading, purely to keep our group members engaged, soon evolved into a much bigger project.

Panto Alan a Dale

“It is with the help of many people and business in the local community that we have managed to produce a full on, pre-recorded and edited piece of panto fun!”

Leighton businesses Admiral Costumes provided costumes, Carl Russell Art created the ‘backdrops’ that will take the place of the green screens and Whoosh Creative is managing the filming and the editing.

The group then tied up with the Leighton Buzzard Library Theatre, who are hosting the screen recording and managing ticket sales.

The story of this new version of Robin Hood involves Robin of Loxley returning from the crusades to discover Nottingham is in lockdown.

The Sheriff of Nottingham has taken advantage of the situation, dictating new rules to the people of Sherwood: Wash Your Hands – Pay Your Taxes – Or Get a Smack in the Gob. It’s a topical piece, guaranteed to raise a few laughs!

You can join the Leighton Buzzard Drama Group on an hour-long festive roller coaster ride of panto fun and enjoy the spirit of panto in the comfort of your own home.

Buy your tickets online via the www.lbdg.org.uk; tickets cost just £4.99 per family! Show times are 2pm and 5pm on both Saturday, January 9 and Saturday, January 16.