Salford students take Pinocchio to schools with panto roadshow

Monday 2 December 2013
Left to right: Cat (Mary Kay James), Pinocchio (Bethany Leitch) and Fox (Lauren Fodor-Jordan)

Salford schoolchildren will be in for a panto treat right on their doorsteps this month as second year performance students from the University of Salford take their production of Pinocchio on tour for the festive season.

In what has become a Christmas tradition in itself, Salford students have been bringing pantomime productions to primary schools in and around the city for more than three decades, and this year’s show promises to be one of the biggest and best yet.

With a storybook-inspired set and a spectacular whale on stage, the interactive performance invites boys and girls of all ages to step inside the well-known fairy tale of a wooden puppet who dreams of becoming a real boy.

As Pinocchio struggles to learn the differences between what is right and wrong, audience members are introduced to a number of quirky characters including a mischievous pair called Fox and Cat, a disgruntled Italian puppet master and a magical Blue Fairy, to name just a few.

In addition to offering schoolchildren an unforgettable performance, the Christmas roadshow gives Salford performance students from the School of Arts & Media an invaluable opportunity to gain professional experience which can lead on to future work. Last year’s roadshow cast even went on to perform their distinctly Salfordian version of Sleeping Beauty at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and have since continued to work together as the Scallywags Theatre Company.

In common with last year’s cast, this year’s group of second year students have been involved in every aspect of the production, from set and wardrobe design right down to adapting and writing the script.

Luke Yale, who will play the part of Jiminy Cricket and is leading on set design, said: “It’s been an exhilarating process from the very start and a little stressful at times, but I’ve genuinely enjoyed every second of it. This production has opened my eyes to children’s theatre and different forms of play.”

Commenting on the professional calibre of the show, director and drama tutor, Roland Metcalf, said: “Working with this year’s cast has been an absolute pleasure. All 10 students have demonstrated an incredible level of dedication and professionalism that exceeds their years.

“Between the eclectic cast, the inventive staging and the impressive wardrobe we’ve got planned, the roadshow should prove to be a real treat for all our primary school audiences.”

Before the cast and crew hit the road for their primary school tour, the Christmas roadshow will be premiering on Saturday 7 December at 2.30pm at The Robert Powell Theatre, Allerton Building, University of Salford, and again there on Wednesday 11 December at 7.00pm. Tickets are £3.00 and are available online or on the door.

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