We didn't mean literally! Panto dame breaks a leg in rehearsals

Pantomime dame Peter Brad-Leigh broke his leg during the dress rehearsal of The Magic of Panto at Diss Corn Hall. He is...

Pantomime dame Peter Brad-Leigh broke his leg during the dress rehearsal of The Magic of Panto at Diss Corn Hall. He is pictured with Jez Bond and Emily-Grace Fox - Credit: Mark Makes Photos

It is an expression intended to bring good fortune to stage performers. 

But as staff at Diss Corn Hall stayed true to the theatrical superstition, the last thing they expected was for pantomime dame Peter Brad-Leigh to quite literally "break a leg".

Pantomime dame Peter Brad-Leigh broke his leg during the dress rehearsal of The Magic of Panto at Diss Corn Hall

Pantomime dame Peter Brad-Leigh broke his leg during the dress rehearsal of The Magic of Panto at Diss Corn Hall - Credit: Mark Makes Photos

Mr Brad-Leigh had been preparing to assume various guises, including Widow Twankey, in 'The Magic of Panto', a three-person show written by Jeremy Bond from JezO's Events.

But while dress rehearsals are usually a good time to get slips and trips out of the way, the dame didn't even make opening night after toppling over in a pair of stilettos. 

"Coming off the stage, Peter just misjudged the steps," said Lee Johnson, operations manager at the Corn Hall. "I think when you are wearing a big frock, it does obstruct your view somewhat. 

Lee Johnson, operations manager at Diss Corn Hall, has been left delighted after the venue received

Lee Johnson, operations manager at Diss Corn Hall - Credit: Archant


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"At first we thought it was a twisted ankle, but when it started to swell we knew it wasn't good. We had quite literally said 'break a leg' beforehand."

At hospital it was confirmed Mr Brad-Leigh had broken his fibula, rendering him unable to take part in the 13-performance run. 

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But his fellow actors, Mr Bond and Emily-Grace Fox, from LP Creatives, proclaimed "the show must go on" and set about re-shaping the script in a single night. 

Diss Corn Hall has received almost £35,000 in emergency funding from Arts Council England and the Br

The Magic of Panto is being performed at Diss Corn Hall - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Having begun welcoming audiences on Saturday (December 19), the panto - with its reduced cast - has proved a resounding hit.

And Mr Johnson said it was proof the arts sector can adapt in a world changed by coronavirus.

"People really seem to be enjoying coming to the theatre," he added. "The audience has been fantastic and they are relishing every moment.

Pantomime dame Peter Brad-Leigh broke his leg during the dress rehearsal of The Magic of Panto at Diss Corn Hall. He is...

Pantomime dame Peter Brad-Leigh broke his leg during the dress rehearsal of The Magic of Panto at Diss Corn Hall. He is pictured with Emily-Grace Fox - Credit: Mark Makes Photos

"Everybody is socially distanced and they are saying it doesn't make any difference to their experience. People have been able to forget, just for a moment, that we are in the middle of a pandemic."

After securing funding from Arts Council England, the Corn Hall recently launched its Act Now initiative - the first step in creating a producing theatre company based at the theatre. 

In partnership with established director, Emma Bernard, the venue will host regular workshops from January, culminating in a performance in March.

To find out more, email actnow@thecornhall.co.uk or call the box office on 01379 652241.

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