THERE will be a chance to laugh and sing, not to mention boo and hiss, away the January blues when Reydon and Southwold Pantomime Group takes to the stage at the end of the month.

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The all-female theatre group is performing its own version of the classic tale Dick Whittington in St Edmunds Hall, Southwold, from January 27 to February 2.

Members will be joined on stage this year by the crew of Southwold’s lifeboat and the town’s retained firefighters, who will make a cameo appearance during the show.

The story, which was written by group members, is set in Southwold. The young Dick, played by Rhiane Slaymaker, sets out to make his fortune in London after his home in Easton Bavents falls in to the sea.

In typical panto style, things don’t go according to plan and Dick has to face a plague of giant rats along the way. They are led by ultimate baddy King Rat, played by Teresa Hughes, who has dreams of world domination.

Well known Southwold landmarks and businesses will feature in the pantomime. There will also be plenty of music, and audience participation throughout the show.

Cath Pickles, who plays Jobcentre worker Loretta, said: “It is always a great evening. We have a huge range of music, from modern pop songs to songs from the 1940s. There is always lots of heckling, jokes and laughing.

“It is a well prepared performance run on professional standards. The writers started work in July and rehearsals began in September with a break for Christmas. The comments people gave us last year was that they had no idea it was going to be as good as it was. They expected an amateur panto and didn’t realise how good people were in the local area.

“It is a real family night out and a celebration of everything that is good about living in Southwold.”

The group put on its first annual pantomime in 1981 and Dick Whittington will be its 33rd. The cast is restricted to women because of the difficulties of dressing and changing for the performances in a single small space. However, men often help with the practical jobs behind the scenes, including lighting and moving scenery.

Proceeds from the performances are distributed to a host of local charities every year. Members have yet to decide how all of this year’s profits will be spent but beneficiaries will include Southwold Lifeboat and a charity nominated by the fire fighters.

Mrs Pickles said the pantomime group was a positive environment for women of all ages to spend time together.

“I got involved with it because I was looking for something to do with my teenage daughter that we could both appreciate as equals,” she said. “There are lots of mothers and daughters in the group. It is really nice to expose our daughters to an environment where a group of women are working together to achieve something. So many teenagers are exposed to negative views of themselves through social media and things like that. It is nice for them to see that is not how it is in the real world.”

Matinee performances will take place on Sunday, January 27 and Saturday, February 2. Evening performances will be held from January 30 to February 2. Performances on January 28 and 29 have been block booked by a local group.

Tickets cost £7 for adults and £3 for children. They are available from Daddy Longlegs in High Street, Southwold or by calling the shop on 01502 724539.

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