A DRAMA group returns to the stage next week for its annual panto production, after a Covid-interrupted gap in 2021.

Dryburn Theatrical Workshop, which usually stages a panto at this time of the year as well as a summer production, only got back on the boards for the first time in November after a 22-month performing lull.

The musical concert All Together Now! helped members to shake off any stage rust ahead of rehearsals for the panto, Pinocchio.

It is the seventh bespoke seasonal production penned for the troupe by panto regular Tom Whalley, telling the story of toy maker Geppetto, whose wish for a son of his own comes true, as his latest puppet Pinocchio magically comes to life.

But the magical puppet, with no strings attached, catches the eye of the evil showman Stromboli, who stops at nothing to get his hands on the enchanted toy.

Workshop chairman Lee Passmoor said, “This fabulous new version of the classic Pinocchio story has been specially written for us by Gateshead-born writer and star of Sunderland Empire’s Snow White pantomime, Tom Whalley. “Pinocchio the Pantomime is a non-stop roller-coaster ride of adventure, laughter, music and magic for all the family.”

The show, at Park View Theatre, Chester-le-Street, runs from Thursday to Sunday, January 13 to 16.

Show times are at 7.15pm on the Thursday and Friday and 6.30pm on the Saturday, with 2.30pm matinees on the Saturday and Sunday.

There is also to be a ‘relaxed performance’, for adults and children with learning difficulties, autism or sensory communication disorders, on Wednesday January 12, at 7.15pm.

Tickets are £9 for all on the Thursday, and £10 for adults and £9 for children and concessions Friday to Sunday, with reductions on block bookings available. Tickets can be booked via www.ticketsource.co.uk/dryburntheatericalworkshop, or by ringing 0191-388-3362 or 07468-607420.

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