Dad Rises to Pantomime Challenge to Write and Direct his First Play

Strand Schools’ annual pantomime inspired by local events and ‘villains’!


Preview 22 March 6:00pm All tickets £2.00

Wednesday 23 March 4:30pm Adults £5.00 Children £2.50

Thursday 24 March 7:00pm Adults £5.00 Children £2.50

Friday 25 March 4:00pm and 7:30pm Adults £6.00 Children £3.00

Saturday 26 March 1:30pm and 6:00pm Adults £6.00 Children £3.00

TICKET HOTLINE: 020 8994 7921

VENUE: Strand-on-the-Green Junior School, Thames Road W4 3NX

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Next week sees the Strand-on-the-Green Junior and Infant School PTA put on it’s annual pantomime - written, directed, produced and acted by parents from both schools.

Now in its 33rd year, the panto has taken a different direction for 2011, and the clue is in the name of the production: ‘Widow Swankey and the Golden Heirloom’. Probably not a panto you ever saw in your childhood?

Whilst it contains all the usual traditional elements of a panto – dame, hero, love-interest, villain, heroic animals who can alert others to impending doom through hoof-tapping alone etc – the play is truly a world premiere, as local dad Andrew O’Mahony has written the script himself, especially for this year’s performance.

The tradition of a PTA panto was started almost 40 years ago by a group of parents looking for a novel way to raise money for the school beyond the usual route of summer fetes and prize raffles. As many of the parents worked at the BBC they realised that between them they had enough experience and resources to put on a play. Since then, the panto has generated regular funds for the school, and last year provided the Infant School with a new playground.

Andrew was inspired to write a completely new panto from scratch, following his involvement in last year’s event - and is saving the production hundreds of pounds in the process. Whilst Andrew confesses that he made the actual commitment to write the panto in a pub after a few beers, he says the inspiration was a bit deeper than that. “I actually wrote my first play when I was seven years old. I’ve always had a passion for writing but it’s only recently that I’ve had the chance to realise that ambition. I recently also put pen to paper for my first novel and am in the process of finding a publisher. ”

He continues: “the school panto presented itself as the perfect vehicle to have another try at play-writing too. Not only has it saved us the cost of buying an existing panto script, but I have also been able to write it specifically for the stage we perform on (there is no stage exit right for example!) and, more importantly, there are dozens of references to the local area, which is really important for a local school panto. The pantomime horse, for example, is named after a local pub, and there is reference to an actual battle that took place in Brentford in 1016 (“oh yes there is”)”.

Andrew was also inspired by some local ‘establishments’ when choosing names for the pantomime baddies, but refuses to name his sources. For that you will have to buy a ticket and find out for yourself (and don’t forget to bring pen and paper to work out the true location of the ‘Derontshtan’ auction house!).

Widow Swankey and the Golden Heirloom is generously sponsored by Retail Insight, Stage Coach and Oliver Finn.

March 18, 2011