Little Theatre aims for flying success

SHERINGHAM Little Theatre is defying gravity with its panto - and reporter ED FOSS has been trying out their tricks with a flying system normally seen in national and leading regional theatres rather than their smaller community equals.

SHERINGHAM Little Theatre is defying gravity with its panto - and reporter ED FOSS has been trying out their tricks with a flying system normally seen in national and leading regional theatres rather than their smaller community equals...

It's a double panto success for Sheringham Little Theatre this year.

Not only have some aspects of their 2007 performance of Snow White been transferred to the bright lights of Norwich Theatre Royal this year, but they have managed to become one of the smallest theatres in the country to successfully make Peter Pan fly this coming season.

Bosses at the theatre, which has a comparatively tiny stage and only 180 seats, had always been told they would never be able to use a professional pulley system to create the illusion of flight because of the lack of available space.


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But at the weekend experts from leading theatre technicians Kirby's were in town to meet the challenge, prove the doubters wrong and install the necessary kit.

The man due to play Peter Pan during the panto run from early December to early January, Paul Sandys, was on hand to try out the equipment for the first time. A few minutes in the specialist harness and with some expert and gentle instruction from Andy Sutton from Kirby's and he was somersaulting and looking remarkably comfortable several feet in the air.

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It was clear that Paul (or should that be Peter?) will find his swashbuckling adventures a piece of cake.

Then came the dreaded moment, when I was asked to do the same, save for the full show of acrobatics because there were not enough specialist somersault harnesses to go round. Which was, um, a shame.

“Kirby's are the main company that every big theatre uses for their special and flying effects, they have been putting people into the air since 1898 and have worked across the world, so you will be in very good hands,” said Debbie Thompson, theatre director, her words tailing off as I was launched into the air.

In all honesty it was only a case of about eight foot off the ground at most - it is a tiny stage in every direction.

But it was high enough frankly and, without going into too much detail, the way the weight was distributed through the body harness needed more than a little getting used to.

But flying from side to side of the theatre, up and down and then side to side again, such discomfort was easily ignored.

I didn't feel like Peter Pan exactly, but with arm extended, fist clenched and whizzing through the air, I'm pretty sure that it would have been difficult to tell me apart from Clark Kent, alias Superman.

Back down to earth and the very generous offer of a complimentary post-flight stiff gin was declined, albeit only just.

However the suggestion that I have a go at one of the other aspects of the panto - a roller skating fairy - was far more easily rejected.

t Peter Pan will be playing at Sheringham Little Theatre from December 6 to January 3. Details of morning, matinee and evening performances can be found at www.sheringhamlittletheatre.com and by calling 01263 822347.

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