It was at a feast event that when chatting to Serge they were talking about panto, and Serge said would they do one and he would check with the Parish Council about it.
Nothing more was said until, after Harvest Festival, Serge said “You are going to do this panto, aren’t you?” Luckily Mike had a suitable script, and when he mentioned that we would need some finance to make costumes and scenery before we had any income, Serge put his hand in his pocket, pulled out £20 and said “Will this start you off?”
Zennor was very lucky to have, as Mike and Liz soon found out, so much talent – not only to go on stage. It’s impossible to mention all who came to help, but Tom and Heather Morse were a godsend. There were countless offers of help to make and paint the scenery, including assistance from the National Trust.
The first panto was Dick Whittington, and it was envisaged to do just a couple of performances, but demand for tickets was so high that more and more evenings were added. Liz did all the dancing routines, but soon found out that the floor (before the stage was built) was very dodgy in places, so that steps had to be worked out to miss those spots, and members of the cast going through the floor.
Within a couple of years, with the standard rising all the time, and more elaborate costumes and sets, including transformation scenes and help from an old friend who had worked in the theatre with Mike previously on lighting, the reputation of Zennor Panto grew, and often coach loads came over the hill to see us.
It was partly because of their success and the need for a more elegant place to stage it that a bid for a millennium grant was applied for and received, so that a renovated village hall for not only the Pantomime, but for all community events came about.
After several years, with Mike and Liz, knowing they were going to retire and move from the area, decided to take a back step from the direction and dancing. They were so proud that not only did the company continue but fresh talent appeared.
Twenty years later Zennor Panto is still going strong and let’s hope it continues as it is such an important part in village life and the community. Mike and Liz returned to the village to see a production in 2012 and then Mike was privileged to write the 2013 production and once again design the sets.
Panto is such a British art form, a favourite with all ages. But try telling foreigners what it is all about. I did once. “There’s this fairy story, and the leading man is played by a girl. And the Dame isn’t a dame, but played by a man. There is always an animal but it’s played by someone in a skin, oh and then there’s a fairy” I can remember one year Zennor Panto had a group of Eastern Europeans working in the district and staying at The Backpackers. They came to a dress rehearsal and were totally confused.
Long may it all continue.