Youlgrave villagers launch 52nd pantomime

Hard-working villagers who have kept a panto tradition going for more than half a century are launching their latest production.

Youlgrave panto is revered as one of the most popular in the region, drawing coachloads of visitors from all over Derbyshire and neighbouring counties.

Youlgrave panto, Nic Wilson as Nurse Nicely with Tom Birch and Damian Glover as her sons

Youlgrave panto, Nic Wilson as Nurse Nicely with Tom Birch and Damian Glover as her sons

This year’s offering is Babes in the Wood and members of the company are hoping to emulate the success of two previous productions of the story.

Jan Wilson is producing the panto for the 35th year, based on a script which took her three weeks to write.

She said: “My late husband produced the first Babes in the Wood in 1962. It was set for three nights but was so popular that they had to extend it for another two nights.”

Original cast member Shirley Brassington, who played one of the Merry Men, is making her mark on this year’s panto by helping to create costumes for Robin Hood’s gang.

Shirley is one of 15 costume makers who work for four months stitching colourful outfits. Jan said: “There is a wonderful feeling of friendship and cameraderie.”

Costumes made by the creative team have been loaned out to other groups in the area in return for a donation. Income from this and panto tickets go towards the upkeep of the village hall for the benefit of the whole community.

Donning the dame’s dress for the third year in a row is Nic Wilson, who is also producer Jan’s right-hand man. She said: “Nic is directing this year’s panto. It has been such a joy having a fresh pair of eyes. He is a very experienced and talented person who brings flair and enthusiasm.”

The babes are played by Libby Wildbore and Poppy Prince. Simon Edmonds plays the Sheriff of Nottingham and his daughter, Tess Edmonds, plays Robin Hood.

Lillian Clark, 81, is the eldest performer in the panto and Ruby Roose, eight, the youngest.

The panto runs at Youlgrave Village Hall from January 29 to February 1 and from Febvruqary 5 to February 8 at 7.30pm with Saturday matinees at 2.30pm. Tickets £6 (adults), £3 (children); half price on Wednesday, January 29. Contact 01629 630202.