Tonbridge’s Wicked panto raises thousands for charity

1887 The Pantiles
FULL OF BEANS: EM Forster Theatre Manager Kat Portman Smith, Clare Marston of Chasing Connor’s Cure and Wicked Productions’ Tom Swift

Almost 13,000 people went to 39 performances staged across three weeks by the hugely popular local company Wicked Productions, who were playing at the venue for the third year running.

The hilarious show was packed full of Wicked’s own staples, such as the boom box ballad and the ‘he’s-behind-you’ dance.

This year’s show also featured a spectacularly large giant and a rendition of Baby Shark that had the whole audience on their feet.

Bucket collections were taken after each performance, raising more than £3,200 for two local causes, Chasing Connor’s Cure and hospice charity ellenor.

Chasing Connor’s Cure, based in Hildenborough, was set up by the parents of seven-year-old Connor Crawford, who suffers from Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

There is no known cure for the rare disease, which tends to affect young boys, and the charity raises money to help fund research into the condition.

Duchenne attacks the muscles and in most cases mobility is lost by the age of ten. It eventually attacks the lungs and heart, leading to shortened life expectancy.

Clare Marston, Connor’s aunt, said: “We are absolutely delighted to have benefitted from this partnership with EM Forster and Wicked Productions.

“The funds raised from the panto collection will go towards funding research into finding a cure for this cruel, life-limiting disease to save Connor and boys like him.”

ellenor is the only charity in Kent that provides hospice care for people of all ages and their families, with 90 per cent of its work being done in a patient’s own home.

Charlotte Gadd, ellenor’s Senior Fundraiser, said: “We are delighted with the amount of money raised and extend a huge thank you to everyone who donated across the panto season.

“The children under ellenor’s care have many different and complex conditions and
our specialist team help to improve the quality of life, not just for the child, but also the
whole family, including their siblings.”

Kat Portman Smith, the theatre’s manager, said: “We are thrilled that the donations raised so much money for two very special local charities.”

She added: “We’ve had so many fantastic comments from audiences who came to Jack and the Beanstalk this year.

“For many, coming to the panto is part of their family Christmas tradition, and we love to see generations of families and friends enjoying coming to the theatre together.

“It was a pleasure to work with Tom Swift and Wicked Productions again, and we are already busy planning next year’s pantomime, which will be bigger and better than ever.”

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