Wretham panto queen just sweet sixteen
ISABEL COCKAYNE After seven years of dressing up to take centre stage in her village's pantomime, Charlotte White decided to go a step further. She has persuaded the panto's organisers to entrust her to write, produce and co-direct it – at only 16 years old.
After seven years of dressing up to take centre stage in her village's pantomime, Charlotte White decided to go a step further.
She has persuaded the panto's organisers to entrust her to write, produce and co-direct it – at only 16 years old.
Such are her powers of cajolery, the teenager from Wretham, near Thetford, has enlisted her friends to help make the sets and props.
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However, the Wayland High School student admits she could not have done it without a lot of help from the cast and Irene Meadows, who used to script all the pantomimes.
When Mrs Meadows hung up her pen after last year's The Goblin Market, Charlotte hid herself away to see if she could write a pantomime.
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Charlotte estimates Aladdin, the 19th village pantomime, took about four months, but it was only two months into it that she asked if the cast and crew would accept her efforts – oh yes they would.
Charlotte said: “I started in the middle. I was quite lucky because the first scene I wrote was a farcical chase, with them just missing each other. It turned out to be the hardest bit. It took quite a few drafts to get it right.”
Charlotte said it was easy to write for some of the characters, such as the dame – played every year by Ray Pearce.
“I could hear him saying Widow Twankey's lines as I wrote them. The cast is pretty much the same year on year, with a couple of people joining or dropping out.”
The first rehearsal went well, said Charlotte, and she has had a lot of help from co-director Mr Pearce and other members.
“My job since is being bossy at rehearsals – which hasn't been that hard for me! I've been generally organising the lighting and music. The next job is props and costumes and I'm filling my weekend with papier-mâché.
“Everyone has chipped in to help me, especially Ray and Irene. They have been major sources of information. Everyone has ideas on what would work well, too, so I have had a lot of help.”
Charlotte is unsure if she could write next year's play on top of the extra work of A-Levels, even though she has managed to fit her GCSE work around the panto.
Mrs Meadows describes Charlotte as one of her protégés and is proud of her work. “She was always there to help set up the village hall as a theatre, which we like to do. She learned quickly. She was quite a little girl when she first came to act in the pantomime, playing a cat, I believe,” said Mrs Meadows.
“This is what pantomime is all about though, getting the youngsters involved and I am thrilled with her work.”
Aladdin will be staged at Wretham Village Hall from February 16-19. Tickets cost £2.50, senior citizens £2 and children £1 on February 16, then cost £3, £2.50 and £2. Friday and Saturday nights are nearly sold out. Call Mrs Meadows on 01953 498558 for tickets.