Welcome to your local community website...
Twenty year old director takes on Argosy Players panto
THE director of one of the many pantomimes in the area this Christmas period is only 20 years old.
Uxbridge's Alicia Balchin jumped at the chance to take on the Argosy Players' production of Beauty and the Beast, her directorial debut, and her youth has not stopped her from keeping her cast members in check.
Speaking to the Gazette in the midst of rehearsals, Alicia said: "It's fine being this young. I still tell everyone what to do.
"All of the members of Argosy are really lovely, and I already knew a lot of them before directing this, so they still treat me as a director, even if I'm younger than them."
This year, for the first time, the Argosy panto is running for two weeks at The Winston Churchill Hall, in Pinn Way, Ruislip, following on from the sell-out success of January's week-long Cinderella.
"I've been a member of Argosy for three years," said Alicia.
"Directing is a lot more work than I initially thought it would be, but I'm really enjoying the challenge. My course at university has helped a lot with giving me ideas and ways to direct."
Miss Ealchin is studying drama, applied theatre and education at the recently royally-appointed Central School of Speech and Drama. She agreed to direct the Argosy panto on a whim.
"It was sort of unexpected that I would direct," she said. "One of the ladies [from Argosy] came over when I was helping out with costumes at the panto last year and I said 'Yeah, I'll give it a go'. The next thing I know, I'm doing it.
"It was quite lucky actually because I had a long summer break, and over the summer I was able to get all of the paperwork side done - all the boring bits. I had no idea there was so much paperwork to get through."
The Argosy Players started rehearsing for the production in October, but they will only get sent the costumes a few days before the opening night.
The final rehearsal was on December 20 and then the cast was not scheduled to meet up until the new year.
"We get our costumes a short time before the first show, so that's a bit scary," said Alicia.
After tackling directing for the first time, Alicia hopes to be able to take on the challenge again in the future but, like any student, she has not quite made up her mind about what that future holds.
"I change my mind all the time about what I want to do, but at the moment my plan is to work in hospitals with people who have gone through some sort of trauma, and to use drama as a therapy to build confidence. That's the plan at the moment, but I'll probably want to do something completely different tomorrow."
■ Argosy Players perform Beauty and the Beast at Winston Churchill Hall, Pinn Way, Ruislip, from January 17 to January 27, at 7.30pm weekdays. Matinees are at 12.30pm and 4pm on Saturday, and 1.30pm and 5.30pm on Sunday.
Tickets cost £8. Friday, Saturday and Sunday performances cost £12 (concessions and group bookings available).
We'd like to hear from you. Send your stories, pics and videos