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Panto cancelled over lack of volunteers

Lack of volunteers: Bermuda Musical and Dramatic Society actors during rehearsal for the Christmas pantomime Aladdin (File photograph)

An amateur acting group will not stage a Christmas pantomime this year because of a lack of human capacity, including a producer for the annual theatrical production.

According to the Bermuda Musical and Dramatic Society, the decision to cancel the pantomime “was not taken lightly”.

Asked by The Royal Gazette if funding had been a factor, Kim Day, president of the BMDS, said: “Panto productions vary greatly in cost.

“However, expenses are not the reason the production was cancelled this year. Rather, it was due to a lack of volunteers.”

She explained: “Producing and directing the panto is a massive undertaking.

“Only a handful of our volunteers have the necessary experience, and they were simply burnt out.

“Some have taken on more demanding jobs, while others are busy with other productions.”

The society has been unable to find a producer for the theatrical production this year.

Ms Day said: “The role of the panto producer begins at the start of the year and requires extraordinary, time, effort and dedication, culminating in managing 50 to 70 individuals, many of whom are children plus their parents.”

Citing a trend, Will Kempe, the BMDS drama chairman, said the lack of volunteers for its productions has been ongoing for the past 20 years.

He said: “There are fewer and fewer volunteers, due to factors such as the mass exodus of expatriates in the early 2000s and perhaps cultural changes.”

In addition, he said there has been a marked change in numbers following the pandemic.

“The result is that the few remaining volunteers end up doing much more, leading to a breaking point.”

The society said the pantomime is the lifeblood and engine of the group, and that it enabled them to stage plays throughout the year

It said some of its plays were popular and well-received, while others might be challenging or controversial, featuring new playwrights that may not fill every seat.

Mr Kempe said: “These productions sometimes break even or even lose money, but we have an obligation to provide theatre and a voice for everyone in the Bermuda community.

“Furthermore, the panto significantly contributes to the annual maintenance of the building and theatre, the only full-time theatre in Bermuda.”

In the months ahead, BMDS hopes that taking a year off will give people time to refresh and recharge.

The group said it will continue to provide mentorship and shadowing opportunities on every production for those interested in learning specific roles within the theatre.

BMDS is continually trying to recruit new people into the producing and directing ranks.

The society plans to hold a producer’s workshop for anyone who wants to be involved in theatre, but who may prefer working behind the scenes rather than performing on stage.

On the positive side, the BMDS said the gap in its calendar of events provided it with an opportunity to put on a variety of smaller productions, some with a holiday theme, at the Daylesford Theatre.

It is preparing to hold Summer Showcase on June 8, featuring some of the island’s top music students. The event starts at 7.30pm and tickets are available at www.ptix.bm.

The BMDS is also working to host the production Death After Dessert written by Bermudian Nathaniel Butterfield, which runs from July 17 to July 27.

The society will be putting on one of the longest running West End plays, The Mousetrap, from September 26 to September 28 and October 2 to October 5.

Between September and December, the BMDS said the theatre is usually transformed into the “panto workshop”.

This year, Mr Kempe said: “We are now considering putting on 24 Hours to Curtain, an improv night, game shows, and certainly bringing back the comedy night.”

The society is also planning to stage several plays such as 30 in 60, All is Calm, and if possible, a Christmas play.

Mr Kempe said: “We are exploring all possibilities and considering all suggestions.”

Meanwhile, the Gilbert & Sullivan musical theatre organisation says it does not plan to hold a pantomime this year.

A spokeswoman for the organisation said the charity will be holding an annual production in October. The show this year is called The Magic of the Musicals 2.

The spokeswoman said the organisation, like the BMDS, is reliant on the support of dedicated volunteers.

She said: “Every little bit of time volunteered makes a big difference.

“If the performing arts have enriched your life, we encourage you to give back and volunteer with any of the performing arts charities on island.”

She encouraged the public to support the BMDS shows planned for December.

Anyone who wishes to obtain information on the Daylesford Theatre can send an e-mail to diva@bmds.bm or visit the BMDSwebsite

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Published May 29, 2024 at 7:57 am (Updated May 29, 2024 at 10:04 am)

Panto cancelled over lack of volunteers

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