Sneak peek at Market Harborough Youth Theatre’s panto rehearsals

Oliver...Ashley Cook, Ellis Potter, Joseph Pugh, Ellis Barthorpe and Katie Rose Parker from 2017.'PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER NNL-180124-081054005
Oliver...Ashley Cook, Ellis Potter, Joseph Pugh, Ellis Barthorpe and Katie Rose Parker from 2017.'PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER NNL-180124-081054005
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On stage, Ellis Potter - built like a prop forward – is singing about how “simply gorgeous” he is.

It’s difficult to imagine a more masculine bloke – which is probably why he’s been selected to play the Dame in Market Harborough Youth Theatre’s latest show – Dick Whittington.

Lighting checks.'PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER NNL-180124-081228005

Lighting checks.'PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER NNL-180124-081228005

The Youth Theatre’s long-serving Musical Director Rod Iliffe plays piano and gives encouragement.

“You see, once the words are absolutely there, you can have fun with it” he explains, as Ellis channels Gaston from ‘Beauty and the Beast’.

Ellis is one of a cast of around 70, aged from five to 23, who are taking part in the show, the Youth Theatre’s 59th in its 25 year history.

They’ve all turned up on a snowy Sunday from all over south Leicestershire and north Northamptonshire for rehearsals which will last from 11am until 6pm.

A dance number during rehearsals of their latest production of Dick Whittington.'PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER NNL-180124-081036005

A dance number during rehearsals of their latest production of Dick Whittington.'PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER NNL-180124-081036005

The panto itself will be open to audiences soon. It runs from this Saturday (January 27) until February 3.

“It costs us more than £10,000 to put it on” explains company manager Sarah McKnight, to a backdrop of half a dozen young women tap dancing on stage.

“So obviously tickets sales are important.”

Expenses range from the hire of Welland Park Academy Theatre to the seriously professional looking scenery – hired from a firm in Suffolk.

Sets are easily moved.'PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER NNL-180124-081124005

Sets are easily moved.'PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER NNL-180124-081124005

“We like to do a traditional, family panto with toe-tapping music and professional standards” adds adult Theatre helper Owen Brooks.

“I think we’re the only large group for young people putting on professional productions in the region.”

“Taking part gives people confidence” says Sarah. “It’s also a very good social thing.”

The success of Market Harborough Youth Theatre shows in the number of ex-pupils who go on to careers in theatre. Many also return to Market Harborough to put back into the group what they got out of it.

Set builders putting the finishing touches to the set at Welland Park College.'PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER NNL-180125-101438005

Set builders putting the finishing touches to the set at Welland Park College.'PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER NNL-180125-101438005

Dick Whittington director Charlotte Chambers (23) started in the group when she was six, went away to do a drama degree at university, and is now back in Market Harborough to add a big theatre production to her CV – and to help out, of course.

“I’s a bit like a family” said Sarah, whose three children have all been Youth Theatre members. “I think that’s what makes it work.

“If the Youth Theatre was to finish, it would leave a big gap in the town”

– Get tickets for Dick Whittington, playing at Welland Park Academy Theatre from January 27 to February 3, online at www.ticketsource.co.uk/theyouththeatre, or at the box office (no cards) at Synergy Dancewear, St Mary’s Road, Market Harborough.

Director Charlotte Chambers during rehearsals of Dick Whittington at Welland Park College.'PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER NNL-180125-101522005

Director Charlotte Chambers during rehearsals of Dick Whittington at Welland Park College.'PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER NNL-180125-101522005

Rehearsals for Dick Whittington.'PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER NNL-180125-101410005

Rehearsals for Dick Whittington.'PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER NNL-180125-101410005

Musical director Rod Illife.'PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER NNL-180125-101611005

Musical director Rod Illife.'PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER NNL-180125-101611005