Panto cancelled by freak winds and snow storm crosses fingers for better weather

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Damage to East Boldre village hall caused by freak winds

AN AMATEUR dramatics group are hoping it will be third time lucky for their panto after it was first blown away by a tornado and then frozen in by a snow storm.

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The original run of four performances by Pilley Players had to be abandoned on its first night on February 1st after freak winds weeks earlier had ripped off the roof of their venue at East Boldre village hall.

But when they tried to reschedule exactly a month later they were struck by the weather again – this time by Storm Emma putting their efforts on ice by snowing in both actors and audience.

Undeterred, the cast and organisers have now written Sleeping Beauty into the Fifties in the diary for November – when they have their fingers crossed the weather will be kinder.

The 26-strong cast ranges in age from seven to 80 and the show is the group’s ninth pantomime.

Panto director Judy Uren explained: “We could immediately have rescheduled yet again but the cast would by that time have thinned out to do other things they had planned and we would have had to start rehearsals all over again.

“We all discussed this and decided that everyone deserved some breathing space before having another go.

“Accordingly, we will still be performing Sleeping Beauty into the Fifties in November, when both the cast and a large audience are refreshed and once more ready to go.”

The first bout of wild weather tore out windows and lifted the flat roof clean off the Main Road building – which dates back to World War One – and flung it several feet away, scattering fragments around the neighbourhood.

One local woman, who wished to remain anonymous, told the A&T at the time: “I’m 45 and have experienced two hurricanes but those were nothing like this.

“It came in and just swept through one path and was very destructive – it was almost as if it was a mini tornado.

“It blew the roof off the showers and toilets on the village hall, and that’s the new part of that building. You can also see where it’s lifted some of the tiles up on the roof.”

Village hall treasurer Gina Antczak added: “The local villagers rallied round with great spirit to help clear the massive amount of debris and the village hall team have been working hard to stop the rain and continuing storms from causing further damage.”

The village hall committee pulled out all the stops to bring the stage back into action and by March 1st Pilley Players were raring to go again.

But after their production was gate-crashed by Storm Emma which swept into the New Forest hours before curtain-up, it was decided to take a break until the autumn.

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