The village of Woldingham has been staging a panto for 64 years (the first was 'Red Riding Hood' by the WI in 1948). Sometimes traditional and sometimes original these popular shows have been staged by the villagers. Some of the Pantomimers have been involved for 20 years or more, some have gone on and started professional careers, and some have passed away but are fondly remembered.
If you're interested, we are always looking for volunteers, performers, musicians and technicians so please let us know. If youd like to know more then click the history link above. If you have a fond memory about the panto to share then get in touch and well add it here with your credit.
A brief history of panto at Woldingham
Pantomime has been a regular (except for 1964) feature of Woldingham since the Christmas of 1948 when the Woldingham Women's Institute staged 'Red Riding Hood'. This proved very popular and they continued to put on a panto each December until taking a break in 1955. That year the mantle was taken up by the Woldingham Young Conservatives who performed 'Puss in Boots' the following January. This set the still popular trend for the panto to grace the stage in January each year.
The WI returned the following year with 'Babes in the Wood' (1957) and continued entertaining the village each year until 1968. This was the year that the WI, together with the Woldingham Players and the Woldingham Youth Group, joined forces to create 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs'. This was also the year that the Village Hall was built, and in January 1969 this embryonic group performed 'Aladdin'. There has been a pantomime there ever since. This group continued for two more years before evolving into the fully fledged Woldingham Panto we all know and love in 1972. This was for 'The Queen of Hearts' and marked The Woldingham Pantomime's first official production. The Woldingham Panto has continued to present a pantomime each and every year since then, to this date, and has become a large part of the village's traditions.
The panto has had many ups and downs over the last , and has seen faces come and go, yet it always triumphs and entertains the villagers each year (and long may the tradition continue!). It has seen members grow with the panto and see it handed down the generations as children (and grandchildren) re-invent the shows year after year. Some members have grown to direct or write shows, and the panto has remained fresh and relevant today as it was yesteryear. Some have even go on to become successful in careers in stage, TV or film. The panto recognises the need for continued 'new blood' and has always had a strong youth element. This is what makes the panto distinguishable (this, and of course the incredibly professional shows and great costumes) and is always a guiding principal.
Sadly, as with any village participation of this longevity, members pass on. The fact that the panto continues on today is a testament to their vision, strength and enthusiasm and they will always be remembered by us and successive generations. Each and everyone has contributed greatly and helped shaped the future of the panto and they will be greatly missed. Let's hope that the panto continues at Woldingham for another !
For More Information