New homes found for Georgian Theatre panto props

Children from Little Learners Nursery Centre in Scorton enjoy playing with the knitted vegetables.

The knitted vegetables that were lovingly created for the Georgian Theatre Royal’s most recent pantomime have continued to have a life of their own and spread joy within the local community.

The 2,000-plus vegetables were knitted by volunteers for the festive production of Rapunzel and played a starring role in the 57 performances.

However, once the final curtain came down, they were taken away for their next appearance in the Richmond Methodist Church’s annual pantomime – King Arthur and the Cornish Pasty.

The vegetables are now retiring from the stage and have gone to four local nurseries – Rooftops Nursery in Richmond, Little Learners Nursery Centre in Scorton, Scorton Village Pre-school and Banana Moon Nursery at Catterick.

Others were taken away by audience members during the show for donations that will be used to support the historic Theatre, which is a registered charity.

“People put such a lot of time and effort into knitting for us that we always try and find good homes for each and every one of the knitted objects that have become such a feature of our pantomimes,” said Jo Mawhinney, chief executive of The Georgian Theatre Royal.

“In previous years, they have gone to Church groups, playgroups and even a nature reserve for a colourful yarn bombing display.

“During Rapunzel, the audience threw the vegetables onto the stage at the baddie – Mother Gothel. It was a real highlight of each performance and audiences loved the interaction. We are really pleased that the vegetables are continuing to give pleasure and enjoyment to many more people.”

The nurseries will be using the knitted vegetables in lots of different ways to support various educational and recreational activities.

“We are delighted to give a home to all these wonderful vegetables,” said Sarah Laws, Manager at Little Learners Nursery in Scorton. “The children love them and they will provide endless fun from soft play to matching, counting and role play.”

The tradition of using knitted props at The Georgian Theatre Royal started 12 years ago when someone on the production team of The Adventures of Sinbad suggested that the audience might like to throw knitted bananas onto the stage. They tried it out and it was an instant success.

So much so, that it has now become a firm community tradition to knit for panto.

Over the years, there have been bananas, apples, leaves, doughnuts and even a huge patchwork blanket that covered the auditorium when the audience was put to sleep in the 2018 production of Sleeping Beauty.

What started out with a few local knitters and Theatre volunteers has now developed into a more global phenomenon. Many of the vegetables were received from all over the UK and abroad. Donations included carrots all the way from Australia and, closer to home, crafters from Hambleton Community Action made the activity one of their projects.

“Our pantomime involves the whole community,” said Jo Mawhinney.

“We also run an annual children’s pantomime arts and crafts competition, local children perform as part of the young company, and the pantomime itself is enjoyed by all ages from tiny tots to great grandparents who come together to celebrate this much-loved festive tradition.

“We have yet to announce what people will be knitting for the 2024 production of Treasure Island, but one thing is certain, knitting will – in some shape or form – be an important part of the action. We are so very grateful to all those who have knitted for us over the years and we hope people are pleased to know that their creations continue to bring joy long after the panto season is over,” she added.

Tickets are now on sale for Treasure Island, which runs from Wednesday 4 December 2024 until Sunday 5 January 2025.

Tickets are available from the Box Office on 01748 825252 or via the online booking system at www.georgiantheatreroyal.co.uk