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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.



Crawley school celebrates science win with Ardingly College and their solar car



Ifield Community College and Ardingly College have won the Times Educational Supplement Science, Technology and Engineering Team of the Year.  

Lead judge Jo Foster said that the project was “absolutely exemplary”. She added:

“From success in international racing events to effective outreach to other schools both at home and abroad, this project goes the extra mile.

Ardingly Ifield Solar has been running for nearly a decade educating hundreds of students in sustainable mobility technologies by designing, building, and racing solar powered cars.

It is a true collaboration between Ifield Community & Ardingly Colleges. In addition, the project works closely with 33 companies and three universities bringing the latest technologies right into the classroom.  

The team’s accolades include driving the solar powered car they made 3000km across Australia, outperforming  Cambridge and Stanford universities in the Bridgestone World Challenge; and racing in France and Belgium in Solar endurance races and being awarded a special ‘Spirit of Albi’ trophy whilst there.

The team were planning on raising awareness of sustainable transport nationally by travelling the length of the UK, but this has been postponed until August 2021 due to current Covid-19 restrictions. This has not stopped the team, who continue to meet twice a week virtually, and are planning their next project: a flat pack solar powered vehicle(a replacement Tuk Tuk).

Miss Sumpter, teacher at Ifield Community College says:

‘I am so happy the team has been recognised for their enthusiasm and dedication to STEM. It is a pleasure to be part of this project, and I am immensely proud of everyone involved. I hope the impact of this project will continue to influence STEM careers.’

For more information on their project, please visit their website:

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