Derby City Council’s staff and councillors will be staging their own version of Mother Goose at the Guildhall Theatre this month and it is set to be an absolute scream.
It is following on from the huge success of DiCC Whittington last year which was the brainchild of the council’s chief executive Adam Wilkinson who sees the project as a chance for them to give something to the community while having fun and building motivation among the staff.
There will be 200 free tickets for people who would not normally be able to afford to see such a show, such as children in care of the authority and pensioners in care homes.
On top of that profits will be donated to the Mayor’s causes – and last year £12,000 was given away.
“We are going to try to exceed that this year,” said Mr Wilkinson who has bravely taken on the role of the dame.
“What we aim to do is make sure the audience have a buzz from being there. It is funny and it is all in a good cause,” he added.
He joked that he never dreamt he would be playing a dame or wearing a dress.
“I didn’t know whether I could do it but I have had a good reaction and I have – to be honest – it’s a nice relief from the day job,” he laughed.
Mr Wilkinson who became the city’s chief executive in July 2009 first had the idea for staging a panto at his last local authority in Rotherham and was determined that despite the challenges facing his staff it was something he also wanted to do in Derby.
He obviously made the right decision as Pete Meakin, the creative producer of DerbyLIVE who is directing the show, says he has been knocked out by the level of commitment and artistic ability the team has shown.
“The structures and hierarchy from the office do not exist once they are here and they have created a community of people working creatively together to produce something which epitomises and extols the values of the council,” he said.
“We went into it last year no knowing what to expect and we had more people taking part than we expected.
Afterwards we were inundated with requests to do it again so it was a bit of no brainer really – we had to go for it again.
“Since then the rolling snowball has gained momentum and this show is going to be staged by some very proficient panto performers and a great backstage team. It has been truly heartwarming to see it develop.”
One of the first people to volunteer to get involved this year was the writer of the script Richard Eaton, the council’s communications officer.
He had helped with the first show but relished to challenge of creating the whole production.
“I rather enjoy creative writing – especially script writing as I did my MA in screen writing – but I had to do my homework to find out what the key elements were for a panto.
“We wanted to involve as many people as possible so we have included a lot more nursery rhyme characters with speaking parts, so for me it has been like putting together an intricate jigsaw puzzle.”
Richard, 38, is a dad to two young daughters so he has had a good sounding board for his gags.
“It has taken a lot of time to write. I was doing most of it early in the morning before I left for work and even when I was on holiday, so the girls have definitely had an early preview of what is to come.
“It has been most fulfilling though and now everyone is working together with great spirit and good humour. I am really excited about seeing it all fall into place on the first night,” he said.
The show, which has been sponsored by Serco and construction project managers Mace, can be seen at the Guildhall Theatre from February 5-8.
For more details about how to get tickets go to http://www.derbylive.co.uk