Coleraine Provincial Players are off to see The Wizard...

Dorothy - Lyndsey Dollard
Dorothy - Lyndsey Dollard

It’s show time again for Coleraine Provincial Players as they get ready to lift the curtain on their latest pantomime – The Wizard of Oz.

The show runs from this Thursday, January 16th, until Saturday 25 January. And for the third year in a row, ticket prices remain family-friendly with tickets starting at £4. And with the show pencilled in to finish at 10.15pm, it’s not a late night for the kids.

Once again, the Lodge Hotel are the main sponsors, much to the delight of club chairman Phillip Kelly.

“We are so thankful to all our loyal sponsors, but especially our main sponsors, the Lodge Hotel,” said Phillip.

“They help us put on a great show and this year’s is yet another family favourite. We have all the usual characters from the Wicked Witches through to our youngest cast members the little fairies, who have a small twist in their part this year.

“We last put on the Wizard of Oz in 2008. Sean Magee has been working hard writing the script and putting a Provincial Players’ slant. We have pulled out all the stops to make it modern and up to date, yet still providing plenty of family fun.

“Noeleen McAuley is the producer again after years of stage experience she is progressed into the producing role with ease. Noeleen is pasing on her wealth of experience to the up and coming talent.

“The production duo have been hard at work since the audition back in August working hard to make sure we put on a real spectacle.

“We have a real mix of experience and craft in the cast this year again. We have been lucky to bring in some exciting young actors who are working hard and growing in confidence.

“This year, we have two talented young ladies playing the part of Dorothy. Chloe Neill no stranger to the town hall having stepped up from the dance troop a few years back. Returning to the players this year is Lyndsey Dollard who, like Chloe, has worked her way up starting of her journey as a fairy to now sharing a lead role.

“No matter what show the public go to see the two girls will give you 100% and both at ease with any of the cast.

“Megan Alexander is plying the part of Toto after having played one of the Seven Dwarves last year, and her reactions on stage are fantastic.

Players’ regular Jonny Johnston is the Scarecrow. He completes the set this year, having played the Tin Man and the Lion in previous years. Jonny’s interaction with his two sidekicks brings the show to life.

Donna Ashford, in her eighth year, is one of the sidekicks playing the Tin Man. Donna gives the role her all and will enjoy playing alongside Jonny.

“The last of the trio is Mark Crawford, who plays the Lion. Mark is no stranger to the stage and no stranger to playing alongside Jonny, so there is sure to be some memorable moments for the audience when they get in full flow.

“Coming back to the Town Hall stage again is Leahanne Dollard after a break of almost 20 years, and to be honest, it’s like she has never been away. She has been practicing hard for her role of the Wicked Witch, which carries a few surprises.

“Leahanne is joined by Zara Kelly, who plays the other Wicked Witch, in what is her first main role. The two evil characters have really gelled and both bring the best out of each other on stage.

“In typical panto fashion we have a big twist, as Leroy Dempster is playing a third witch. I don’t want to give too much away, but it is worth seeing.

“Joan McLaughlin is playing the Good Witch, after playing a ‘baddie’ last year Joan is relishing this role.

“At the end of the yellow brick road, they hopefully get to meet the Wizard, who this year is being played by a young up and coming man from within the group, in the shape of Adam Mullan.

“Adam came to us last year a shy quiet man but this year has been given the task of playing the Wizard – and is giving us his all.

“The dance troop have been hard at work to try and match the bench marks set in the last two years.

“The dances this year are upbeat and modern and will have the crowd foot taping. Under the tuition of Shannon Henry, who has this year taken on the role of dance choreographer, she really puts her stamp on all the dances.

“We have Gemma Campbell playing the role of Fairy Queen, she is looking forward to working with the fairies.

“The fairies have been working hard from October on their song and have been a pleasure for our Fairy Coaches Sarah Culbertson, Lavinia McMullan and Shannon Campbell to work with.

“I cant wait to see them on the stage, its hard to believe that some of these girls are only starting school and to have them preforming in front of a hall full of people, is a credit to not only the coaches but the parents.

“This year we have the pleasure of having students from NRC Production Arts, Ballymoney involved in the show.

“It’s nice to give people with a passion for production arts an insight into sound, back stage and hall stewarding in a show like our own.

“It’s great to give the youth an opportunity, we recognise that promoting youth is the only way forward, they are our future.

“The stage crew will be under the watchful eye of ‘Mr Panto’ himself, Sean Magee.

The stage crew have been hard at work since October, Sean and Brian Willis have had the hard task of putting ideas from paper into action.

“Heather Doherty is once again managing the crew who look after the booking office, tuck shop, Programme sales and hall management. These are all very important parts to the show, and with Heather at the front leading the way you are in good hands.

“There are still some seats left, so call in to the Coleraine Town Hall where we have the booking office open Monday to Saturday 10am-4pm, also the booking office will be open during the shows.

“Shows this year start 7:30pm for night performances and 1:30pm for thevMatinees. So why not come along and see a pantomime for all ages, and join us in a great night’s craic!”