Christchurch Players in the Beginning.....
'Twas in the year of seventy-seven -
Some eons back in time -
That Tadley Common Players produced
Their very first pantomime
But the idea started earlier
From socials in the Church hall
When everybody would "do a turn"
And fun was had by all (well some, anyway).
Then someone had the bright idea,
Which they thought would be a laugh,
To have jokes, songs, sketches to start with
And a panto in the second half
And so in nineteen seventy-five
The first potted panto was born
"Alluva Din and his Magical Gamp".
So began the long saga of corn.
This was followed by "Cinderalf"
Which went down well at the time
And so the idea came about
For a full-scale pantomime.
...and the rest, as they say, is history!
Since those far-off beginnings, there have only been three directors:
The first, who really started the whole thing, was Jim Little, a member at Tadley Common. Jim directed the first five pantos, but in 1982 he moved down to Bournemouth.
Ray Chalk then took up the reins, and held them for the next twenty years. Since 2001, Charles Burge has been in charge (or so we let him think). This year Hannah Bending and Val Wallbank will be co-Directors of the performance; but we haven't been successful in getting rid of Charles, who is the Producer.
The panto has developed from its tentative early days to the polished productions we have now come to expect. In the late 1990s, the company name was changed to reflect the fact that this had became a joint Tadley Common / St Mary's venture, and we now involve folk from many of the local churches and some who have no formal church links. But two things have remained throughout: First, right from the start, we made it a rule that everyone who wants to be in it will be found a part. If necessary, this might mean having Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves every year, but we've only needed to resort to that once. The second thing is that this is a project where young and old participate on an equal footing. It is not just a question of adults "showing the young how to do it". If the truth be known, the boot is on the other foot.