The story of Aladdin is once again out of the genie’s lamp for popular panto people, the Thornley Birds. Seventeen years ago Margaret Blackburn, founding member of the group which started as Thornley WI in Chipping Village Hall, chose the tale of the street lad who finds a wonderful lamp as the first of what has proved to be a major panto attraction through the years.
With her sisters Mary Holmes and Vera Dewhurst - this amazing trio are now all in their eighties - doyenne of dames Margaret (88 in May) once again dons that quirky character in a repeat of her 1999 performance as Widow Twanky, while Mary, just 80, is Abanazar and Vera (86) accompanies the full cast on keyboard.
With Margaret’s daughter Elizabeth Morris continuing to give her behind-the-scenes and stage props skills, the family influence from the beginning is now carried on by “lots of nieces and nephews being in it now!” laughs Margaret.
Chief costumier, she is also the creator of the panto’s Chinese lion and a two-hump camel... and has cast those younger family members as important interiors for both!
The group’s annual productions have become hugely popular, being renowned for the expertise, skill and professionalism which mark every pantomime. Although not now staged in Longridge, they open in Chipping Village Hall at 2.30pm on Sunday February 21, then on Friday February 26 7.30 pm in St Martin’s Hall, Fulwood, and at the same venue, 7.30pm on Saturday February 27. Tickets 01772 774384.