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Crawley’s youngsters miss out as Hawth panto chooses dancers from afar

No fairytale for Crawleys dancers in this years local pantomime as majority of cast are anything but local



We may be in the middle of summer but thoughts are already out there for this years Panto and with Crawley it is expected to be another fantastic production.

So it has come as a bit of a shock that when the list of young dancers who auditioned for a role in this years panto was announced, only one third of them were from Crawley itself.

24 dancers were chosen but only 8 actually live in the town while the rest live up to almost 40 miles away.

When the auditions took place the response from ‘local’ performers was immense with almost 200 youngsters turning up to audition.

A statement from the producer of the show said:

‘We had an incredible turn out at this year’s auditions, the standard was higher than ever. It’s almost a shame we only needed 24 dancers as I’m sure we could have cast many more from those who came along! Those who have been selected are the best of the best, they will be a real asset to the Aladdin cast’

But those who reside in the town have gone a step further and asked why so few of those cast are from the town itself.

“I dont think this is right” – Councillor Chris Mullins

One parent who asked to remain anonymous for fear of it affecting her daughters chances in the future said:

“Isn’t a local panto for the local people and that includes casting locals as well?  I’m not trying to stop other young children from having a chance to perform but don’t they have pantos in their own town?”

The full list of locations was released as a press release saying the performers were chosen from Crawley and the surrounding areas but as the list illustrates the term ‘surrounding’ appears to have lost its meaning.

Whilst Horsham, Horley, Balcombe and East Grinstead are considered local to the town, the locations outside of these the performers are from are (approx distance by car):

Brighton and Hove – 22 miles
Chislehurst – 31.4 miles
Bromley – 37.6 miles
Westerham – 21.4 miles
Heathfield – 27 miles
Carshalton – 21 miles
Coulsdon – 17 miles
Burgess Hill – 14.6
Sutton – 23.8
Shoreham-by Sea – 26.7
Southwick – 23.7

A spokesperson from The Hawth said:

“The Hawth’s pantomime is enjoyed by thousands of people from across the town and beyond, and this is reflected in those who come along to the producer’s open auditions each year.

Almost 200 youngsters danced their hearts out this year and the final 24’s talent really shone through on the day.

The producers select the dancers on merit and do not know where they are from while they are dancing, ensuring they choose the best possible dancers to create the high quality pantomime people expect from The Hawth.”

But questions are still being asked as to why the ‘open’ audition was available to such a wide geographical area.

Councilor Chris Mullins who is Cabinet Member for Wellbeing said:

“I’m very surprised that they didn’t run local auditions for local kids and they would have easily have got the quality of dancers that were needed. “

“What they have done is effectively forced parents from a long way away to bring their child all the way down to our town which surely is not good for the environment or even for the children.”

I think our local dancers put a lot of time and energy and perhaps money into learning the skills they have got and I feel as though they may have been overlooked and I dont think this is right.”

“I would call surrounding areas Horley and Balcombe but the others are no-where near us!”

A spokesperson from Evolution Productions who is producing the panto this year was unavailable for comment.



Live or work in Ifield? Make sure you attend ‘Talk Ifield” Community Forum

Over one year after its successful re-launch in autumn 2017, the ‘Talk Ifield’ local community forum will be holding its next open public meeting from 7.00pm to 8.30pm on Monday 4th March 2019 at Elim Church, The Mardens, Ifield, Crawley RH11 0HD.



‘Talk Ifield’ was first established in 2013 as a neighbourhood forum, run by local people, for local people.

It offers an opportunity for people who live and work in Ifield to meet and share ideas for improving and developing the local community for the benefit of everyone.

Anyone who lives in, who works in, or who has an interest in Ifield is welcome to attend the open forum meetings.

This year they are delighted to announce their guest speaker on 4th March will be Crawley Borough Councillor Martin Stone, who will be giving a presentation and leading a discussion on the subject of ‘Crawley Museum, and a short history of Crawley and Ifield’.

Crawley has a rich and varied history dating back several centuries, and the new Museum has now become a focal point for anyone who is interested in the heritage of our town and its changing character over the years.

Martin has had a leading role in helping to establish the Museum and has himself also undertaken extensive research into the history of Ifield in particular.

Mark Sudan, Chair of the ‘Talk Ifield’ Management Committee, said:

“Very many people attended our last open forum meeting in September, and we enjoyed a most interesting presentation on maintaining our neighbourhood environment from the Borough Council officer responsible for leading that work.

We are now looking forward to our next forum meeting on 4th March, at which Cllr Martin Stone will be bringing us up to date on the new Crawley Museum, and sharing with us his own extensive knowledge and research into the history of Ifield in particular.

This will be a fascinating evening’s discussion, and we urge as many people as can do so, to come along and share the experience as Martin takes us on a unique journey through local history.”

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