Setting the scene for a grand production

SNOW White and the Seven Dwarfs, by the Co-op Juniors, is about to take to the stage and bring festive sparkle to Ipswich. But it has been a long journey.

SNOW White and the Seven Dwarfs, by the Co-op Juniors, is about to take to the stage and bring festive sparkle to Ipswich. But it has been a long journey.

VICTORIA KNOWLES spoke to some of the people who have worked tirelessly behind the scenes and found out that it is a real family affair.

FROM the imagination, to a drawing, to a wonderful wooden creation ready to be wheeled on to stage.

This is the process that Mark Cutting and many others have followed since September when preparations began for the set of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

When audiences sit down to enjoy a Boxing Day treat Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, they will know little about behind the scenes. Where every available pair of hands is working over-time to make it a success.

It is the corner stone of the Co-op Juniors – family values and a chance for everyone to get involved.

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He was an eager dad willing to lend a hand and now he is a staple of the Co-op Juniors team of mums and dads who help keep the group going year after year.

"I have been involved since my daughter, Sarah, was about seven and now she is 16. Now I am one of the main carpenters and it really keeps me out of trouble.

"My wife, June, is also involved and helps to make all the costumes It is very family orientated and that is part of the reason the group is so successful.

"We start in September and it begins to take over from there. It is very time consuming but a great way to meet people and make friends.

"It is really nice to see all your hard work on the stage at the end of it all and gives you a feeling of satisfaction," he said.

The Biscoes are another of the stalwart families who give up their time every year and just like Mr Cutting the overwhelming feeling when you speak to them is that they enjoy it .

John Biscoe, 49, of Kesgrave, got involved after his son, Sam, 16, became a member of the juniors. His wife, Jane, also helps with the props.

"I just can't imagine Christmas without it now," said Mr Biscoe.

"I have been involved for eight years and there is always a good atmosphere. This year I have been helping to get the gypsy caravan up and running.

"It is a very busy time. We go in to the Regent on December 17 and we have three days to erect all the scenery. There is always something to do. We are on top of it but you never know," he laughed.

So that is the scenery all finished but there are always costumes to make and props to prepare. Once again there are plenty of eager parents and friends ready to rolls their sleeves up and get stuck in.

Sue Woolnough has been making costumes since her three girls got involved in the juniors many years ago.

From a jester to a snowdrop and a gypsy, this year, as always, she has her work cut out to get everything ready on time.

"It does take over your life but it is all worth it. We copy patterns from Pat, the wardrobe mistress, and then we get these approved.

"Everyone always pulls together and you never feel like you are on your own. It really has taken over my family and my husband, Trevor, now performs in the productions.

"He has been involved with the juniors for seven years and performing for three of those. He always wanted to be in the productions and was really pleased when he was asked.

"All my daughters are in it, Lisa, 16, is playing a maid and Gemma, 18, and Rachel, 13, are both dancers.

"I am the mum who makes the costumes and it keeps me very busy," she said.

With only a couple of weeks to go until they open at the Regent on Boxing Day work in on schedule and Pauline Walker, one of the directors is looking forward to a great show.

She said: "All the costumes and scenery are made to an exceptionally high standard year after year and this year we have a new scenery designer, Richard Rumbellow, who is also a member of the cast. He has been with the group for many years and has taken many leading roles.

"Each department is managed by volunteers who work hard from September to Christmas to produce stunning effects to show the cast off at their best."

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs opens at the Ipswich Regent on December 26 and runs until January 4. For more information about tickets please call the box office on Ipswich 433100.