The Todmorden U3A column with Anthony Peter: A radiophonic razzle-dazzle Cinderella story

PANTO: Ugly sisters Gargantua (Colin Sansom) and Madonna (David Rawson). Photo by Roger Howard.
PANTO: Ugly sisters Gargantua (Colin Sansom) and Madonna (David Rawson). Photo by Roger Howard.

U3A Todmorden’s far-sighted committee decided several months ago that something fresh was needed for our December Members’ Meeting – so they came up with a traditional panto!

But this would not be just an ordinary Christmas panto, oh no.

This would be a U3A Sponsored and Commissioned, subtly scripted, wickedly witty, perfectly punned, colourfully costumed, musically magical, audibly amplified and magnificently marketed Christmas panto.

And who better to approach for a script than the U3A Creative Writing Group? – who accepted the challenge, and sought paid-for scripting advice in writing-for-panto from local actor Ryan Greaves.

Money well spent!

We had a hilarious afternoon in the company of the Creative Writing Actors’ Company, for these were writers prepared to stop sucking their pencils and stand by what they’d written.

Sylvia Hartley, decked in glittery top and with pink frills on her ‘pen’-feathers, played the Yorkshire Fairy Godmother-cum-narrator with her borrowed wand.

The Ugly Hardup Sisters, Madge (Madonna) and Ga-Ga (Gargantua), were played in neon-pink and neon-green wigs by David Rawson and Colin Sansom respectively.

Proper dim-witted super-bitches they were, dispatching Cinderella (Helen Walmsley) on a daily basis to Lidl to buy their special Beauty Cream and cut-price Pinot Grigio.

But in the supermarket aisles whom should Cinderella be approached by but the gauche Prince Charming (Linda Sandler), disguised as a commoner on a royal talent-spotting outing organised by Dandini (Barbara Griffiths), a Tod lad made good in royal service, and embarrassingly recognised by his former muckers Dudley Pike (Denise Tyas) and Manky Knowles (Maddie Cullinane). Space forbids reporting all that was noteworthy, but I did enjoy the striking alliterative turn taken by an inspired Ga-Ga that she was the ‘Tantalising Temptress in Turquoise Taffeta’.

And we must not forget the Concert Party (and Friends) choir, accompanied by Gill Baldwin on ukulele and concertina.

They had three neatly integrated slots with ‘Sisters’, ‘I’d Do Anything’, and finally ‘Winter Wonderland’ which accompanied the happy couple’s honeymoon.

And after all this, members settled down to an entertainingly fiendish quiz set by Marion Kershaw.

U3A Todmorden’s next members’ meeting will be held today (Thursday, January 16), 2020 in the Central Methodist Church Hall in Todmorden at 1.45pm when our guest speaker Sue Flood will be talking about the ‘Adventures of a Wildlife Photographer’.

Our contact details are www.u3atod.org.uk (website), info@u3atod.org.uk (email), or 01422 886021 (phone).