Hackney Players’ wish comes true just in time for Christmas panto

Some of the Hackney Players cast - from left Widow Twanky (Michael Davies), Genie of the Lamp (sitti

Some of the Hackney Players cast - from left Widow Twanky (Michael Davies), Genie of the Lamp (sitting, Alan Kenny), Abanazer (Luke Frendo), Wishee Washee (Mary Frendo), Aladdin (Maria Rock) and Princess Balrobador (Philippa Clarkin). - Credit: Archant

Actors from Hackney’s last surviving amateur dramatic group are over the moon they have been granted their one wish to find a new home, just in time for their Christmas panto Aladdin.

The Hackney Players: Widow Twanky (Michael Davies) and Aladdin (Maria Rock).

The Hackney Players: Widow Twanky (Michael Davies) and Aladdin (Maria Rock). - Credit: Archant

Three years ago the group had to scrap the special show they were preparing for their 40th anniversary, when the Summit Estate Community Centre where they rehearsed and performed was condemned.

Hackney Homes decided the £250,000 bill needed to make safe the 100-seat capacity theatre in the converted mortuary in Portland Avenue, Stoke Newington, was unaffordable.

The 1950s building where the 15-strong group had been based for 37 years was in a terrible state of disrepair, with cracking walls, unsafe electricity and a leaking roof, all exacerbated by vandalism.

But now Hackney Homes has offered the group the chance to use Morland Community Hall in Gayhurst Road, London Fields, and they are staging their first panto since 2010.

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Amateur dramatist, Keith Stean said everyone is grateful to Hackney Homes: “We didn’t think we’d be able to put on a panto at all this year but in true Aladdin style, Hackney Homes granted our wish.

“We’ve put on a few one act plays there, but we’ve been unable to do a panto until now because we lost all our props and costumes as we had nowhere to store them.

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“Now we’re properly established in the hall with a lockable space, so this will be our new home from now on.”

The group is promising Aladdin will deliver a thigh-slapping, fun-packed journey through the streets of Peking with jokes, genies, a yeti and audience participation.

The show runs from Thursday December 5 to Saturday December 7 at 7.30pm, with a Saturday matinee at 3pm.

Tickets cost £7 for adults and £5 for children and concessions, email keith.stean@virgin.net or call 07806 753328.

Rehearsals are held on Monday and Thursday evenings.

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