Peter Pan is grounded by safety worries

STEPHEN PULLINGER The young Norfolk cast of a musical version of Peter Pan have been brought down to earth with a bump after learning their lead character has been grounded - due to tighter interpretation of health and safety rules.

STEPHEN PULLINGER

The young Norfolk cast of a musical version of Peter Pan have been brought down to earth with a bump after learning their lead character has been grounded - due to tighter interpretation of health and safety rules.

Peter Pan has flown before at Gorleston's Pavilion Theatre so Mary Carter, the administrator of local youth theatre group Dusmagrik, was not expecting any problems when she called in specialist company Flying By Foy, which puts up the special rigging.

However, after inspecting the century-old building the firm's technicians concluded the magical effect could only be achieved safely if extra brackets were fixed to the theatre roof - and that could only go ahead after a full structural survey to check if the ageing beams were able to support it.

Ms Carter said: "We booked the show in January and started auditions in July, but it was not until we had a site visit that we realised there could be any problems at all.

"What the flying company was demanding would not have been possible because the theatre was busy with shows and the structural survey would have taken a week and would have required scaffolding to be put up and all the lighting and other equipment to be stripped out to inspect the beams."

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Jessica Whyte, 15, the Gorleston girl playing Peter Pan, should have been learning the ropes - literally - in the days leading up to the production, which runs from next Wednesday to November 17, but the organisers had been forced into a hurried re-think.

Ms Carter said: "The main flying scene should have been at the end of Act One when Peter flies off with the children to Neverland but now we just make Peter go to the window and the audience is left to imagine them flying off.

"Initially, the youngsters were very disappointed but fortunately Peter Pan is not just about flying. It is a classic story with a lot of singing and dancing." She said ticket sales were still selling well for the group's annual production in aid of Children in Need.

Theatre director Stuart Malkovich said he could recall Peter Pan flying at the theatre on two occasions in recent years but it was a sign of the times that health and safety measures were being tightened up.

He said: "We would have needed to get permission from Yarmouth Borough Council, the owners of the building, to carry out the structural survey and during our 25-week summer season it would not have been possible."

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