Swanage Panto performers say: Covid? It’s behind us…!

This year’s Swanage panto has been the ‘hardest ever’ with illness and positive Covid tests causing one cast member after another to miss rehearsals.

But performers for Snow White and the Seven Dwarves are now relieved to say that ‘it’s finally come together’ and the perfect antidote to a difficult few years.


The pantomime by the Swanage Drama Company opens at The Mowlem on Friday 14th January 2022, with a total of six performances scheduled, after a gap in 2021.

Snow White
Swanage Drama Company

Queen Covidia has been lurking in the wings, waiting to strike

“Went down with Covid”

Ro Smith, one of the steering group members, and performing as one half of the comedy duo the Queen’s woodmen called Lateral and Flow, had her own battle with ill-health.

She said:

“I went down with Covid at the end of October, despite being double jabbed, and it’s only now I’m back to my old self.

“I was very poorly. It was absolutely nasty.”

Snow White
Swanage Drama Company

Testing times – Lateral and Flow, the Queen’s henchmen – Claire Leyman (left) and Ro Smith (right)

“It’s been a trial”

Most other cast members who tested positive had minor symptoms or no symptoms at all. But one of the dwarves has only just now been given the all-clear after also suffering more serious illness.

Ro said:

“It’s been a trial. It’s certainly been the hardest pantomime for us to stage in terms of managing rehearsals with members of the cast isolating and others having to read in their parts.”

Snow White
Swanage Drama Company

Several of the cast have been struck down with illness this year

“Come out to support us”

It’s the first panto for two years because of last year’s Covid lockdown.

John Mitchell, Swanage Drama Company treasurer, said:

“We really didn’t know whether it was going to be on or off, so we just carried on rehearsing, hoping for the best, not knowing if at some point Boris would call a halt to things and leave us lumbered with a lot of costs for a production that didn’t happen.

“But now it’s on – just – and we hope people come out to support us and have a good time like they always do.”

Snow White
Swanage Drama Company

Seven oversized dwarves – Left to right: Jacqueline Chater; Stuart Wright; Quinn Wright; Duncan Hobbs; Carrie Gelder; Anthony Ayles; John Attwood

Dwarves stretch artistic licence

A lack of enough children to play the dwarves has involved some creative casting and a little artistic licence, meaning that Snow White’s companions are a little taller than usual!

Snow White is played by Holly Gate, a familiar face in Swanage Drama Company productions. Another regular is the talented Brian Travers back as Panto Dame.

The production is directed by David Wellstead-Arnold. Tickets are £12 for adults, £7 for children, with family tickets at £30.

Snow White
Swanage Drama Company

Every panto must have its dame – Brian Travers points the way, with Hannah Chelton as Prince Laughalot of Lockdownia

“Good to be back on the stage”

Ro Smith added:

“We’re all really looking forward to the show. It’s good to back on the stage.”

Book tickets

Performances are on Friday 14th, Saturday 15th, Friday 21st and Saturday 22nd January 2022, with matinees on the Saturdays. Tickets are available from The Mowlem box office or via the website

Snow White poster

The show must go on!

Share this story

Contact us

Do you have anything to add to this story?

We like to keep everything up-to-date, so if you know more, please help us by getting in touch.


Top stories

Storm Ciarán sweeps into Swanage brushing away its flood defences Concrete blocks along Swanage seafront to protect against flooding were strewn across the road by the force of Storm Ciarán, while Studland beaches had about five years of coastal erosion ... 1 month ago BBC snubs Purbeck by filming Enid Blyton stories in Cornwall 1 week ago Polar Express magic arrives in Swanage for Christmas 3 weeks ago Crisis at Swanage Railway as £450,000 survival fund is launched 1 month ago Restaurant with perfect view of Swanage Bay to open in 2024 2 weeks ago

Most recent

Business is blooming in Swanage town centre Bucking the national trend of empty shop units, Swanage in Dorset is seeing lots more new businesses opening up in the heart of the seaside town. 11 hours ago Inspiring Christmas trees at Swanage festival 1 day ago Enchanted evenings light up Purbeck secret garden 2 days ago Swanage seafront survey result gives council splitting headache 3 days ago Plans for growth at Swanage community garden 4 days ago