HOW WE GOT HERE ……
In 1964 the only North East Theatre with a traditional pantomime was the Civic Theatre, Darlington, so with no money and even less experience of a major show a group of enthusiastic people boldly announced in September of that year, the formation of “Whitley Bay Amateur Pantomime Society” and plans went determinedly ahead for “Aladdin and his Wonderful Lamp” to be presented at the Priory Theatre, Whitley Bay from 11th to 16th January 1965.
All the costumes were home-made, many were indeed wonderful creations as was the scenery and props and the BBC was persuaded to give the Pantomime a spot in their local TV Magazine Programme. The Pantomime was produced by Geoff Watson, Musical Director Fred Knowles and Choreographer Olive M.D. Harper. The Chairman and his wife (Ernie and Marjorie Scorer) were connected to Whitley Bay Scouting, which proved of tremendous importance in turning a vision into reality as the Scouts provided the backstage/crewing experience.
“Aladdin” proved a big hit with local audiences and ten annual Pantomimes followed before the Priory Theatre was closed at short notice and some fast and furious adjustments were needed to transfer “Robinson Crusoe” to what is now known as The Playhouse in January 1975.
It would take too long to mention all the people who helped put on those early shows.
Many sadly no longer with us. Suffice to say they will never be forgotten and the tremendously high standards they set continue to be maintained. The Society has always placed firm emphasis on traditional Pantomime, directing entertainment at the children in our audiences and involving them in the action as much as possible. After all, Pantomime is very often their first experience of live Theatre and this is especially important in today’s electronic age. When The Playhouse closed in 2007 for renovation, the Society transferred to the People’s Theatre, Heaton, staging “Jack & The Beanstalk” 2008 and “Goldilocks”2009. In 2010 we returned “home” to The Playhouse with “Sleeping Beauty”.
We are a friendly Society whose members work hard, but also have lots of fun and we are always looking for willing hands to help out with a variety of jobs. Rehearsals commence in September and keep going without break until the Dress Rehearsal at the Theatre in January. Whilst “Amateur” was dropped from the Society’s name all our members are volunteers. We have some families with three generations all taking part and many of our members also belong to other local Societies.
Three of the main Aims and Objectives of the Society are:
To present an annual pantomime.
To promote the study and development of the arts and skills associated with the pantomime tradition.
To benefit charitable bodies out of any funds that may become surplus to the requirements of the Society as decided at the Annual General Meeting by a majority of members present and voting.
Over the years the Society has donated thousands of pounds to local charities, the success of our 2011 “Cinderella” allowed members to agree donations to various local charities totalling £1,000.00.
The Society has in place a Child Protection Policy. A copy of the 4 page document is available from the Secretary.
“In 2014 we celebrated our 50th Anniversary with a sparkling and lavish production of … well what else could it be but …..“ALADDIN”