THE Blue Light Theatre Company's charity pantomime, Wonderland, will raise money for York Against Cancer and Motor Neurone Disease (York) from Friday at Acomb Working Men's Club, York.

"McColls, on Gale Lane, Acomb, have been very kindly raising money for the company to help stage the panto and to help us keep ticket prices affordable," says publicity officer Mark Friend.

"The cost of putting a show on keeps rising each year and we wouldn't be able to carry on or raise money for charities without the support of local people and businesses such as McColls.

"It all started with the shop's relaunch in November 2018, when the store held a cake bake, raffle, tombola and face-painting events, and since then McColls has continued to support and raise money for the Blue Light Theatre Company."

Last Sunday, McColls' manager, Tess Snowden, presented Blue Light with £240, raised by staff and customers.

"We are so grateful to everyone involved, not only for raising the money and publicising the panto, but also for coming in on their time off to support events in-store and also for baking cakes at home and donating raffle prizes," says Mark. "Everyone, both staff and customers, have been so welcoming and it has really created a community feel."

The Blue Light Theatre Company comprises paramedics and dispatchers from the Yorkshire Ambulance Service, York Hospital workers and people from the York theatre scene. "Our last panto raised £2,400, which was split equally between York Against Cancer and Motor Neurone Disease (York) and this year we hope to exceed that amount."

Written by Perri-Ann Barley, with additional material by Steven Clark, and directed by Craig Barley, Wonderland is a new show that sees the return of favourite characters such as Alice, The White Rabbit, The Mad Hatter, The Cheshire Cat, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum and the King and Queen of Hearts, while also introducing some "fabulous and colourful" new ones.

"In our show, Wonderland is bursting with excitement as they prepare for Wonderland’s Got Talent!, hosted by Queen Delores Van Clubland, but the King and Queen of Hearts don't want such a competition to go ahead and are determined to put a stop to it," says Mark. "A battle then ensues as the two Queens go head to head, but who will lose theirs first?"

Queen Delores Van Clubland will be played by Steve Clark; Winston, the King of Hearts, Glen Gears; Queen of Hearts, Perri-Ann Barley; Alice, Devon Wells; Aunt Lucy, Brenda Riley; The White Rabbit, Mark Friend; The Mad Hatter, Peter Melia; Tweedle Dee, Simon Moore, and Tweedle Dum, Jorvik Kalicinski.

The role of The Cheshire Cat goes to Kristan Barley; The Great Prophet, The Royal Messenger and Doug, Craig Barley; Maud, Pat Mortimer; Maid to the Queen of Hearts, Linden Horwood; Servant to The Great Prophet, Zoe Paylor; Flower Girls, Zoe Paylor, Nicky Moore, Linden Horwood and Katelyn Botterill, and Unicorns, Kalayna Barley, Kathryn Donley and Charlotte and Abigail Botterill.

Wonderland will be performed on Friday, Wednesday, Thursday and next Friday at 7.30pm and at 1pm this Saturday. "You don't need to be a member of the club to attend," says Martin. Tickets cost £10 for adults, £8, concessions, £5, children, on 07933 329654.

Charles Hutchinson