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You are never too old to be in a panto

PUBLISHED: 09:10 08 December 2011

Director Chris Scales goes over the script with Dandini, played by Penny Goddard, with the rest of the cast of the panto Cinderella by residents of the retirement home Hanover Gardens at Mulbarton. Picture: Denise Bradley

Director Chris Scales goes over the script with Dandini, played by Penny Goddard, with the rest of the cast of the panto Cinderella by residents of the retirement home Hanover Gardens at Mulbarton. Picture: Denise Bradley

Archant copyright 2011

Life begins at....the residents of Hanover Gardens in Mulbarton prove you are never too old to have a good time.

There comes a time in many people’s lives when they have to consider moving out of their home for one reason or another.

It is such a difficult time. Our homes are our own world, the one we have made for ourselves.

The place where we feel comfortable and safe, surrounded by so many memories of family and friends.

But times change.

Some people dread the prospect of leaving their own comfortable world and into one they will be sharing with others.

However, this story illustrates how that move can be the start of a new life.

The rather old fashioned expression for many of the homes many move into is “sheltered” – you know that I mean.

It’s housing with support. There is always someone there if you need them.

You can be as private or as sociable as you want to be – it is entirely up to you. The idea that these kind of homes are for those who sit in a chair most of the time is long gone – for most it is the start of a whole new life. One full of fun and friendship.

And this lot are having the time of their lives.

It was Mulbarton artist Chris Scales who suggested we take a look at what has been going on at Hanover Gardens. “You will be amazed. The people who live there are an inspiration to us all,” he said.

And he was right. They are having the time of their lives.

At the start of the year manager Debbie Genery asked Chris if he would write and direct a pantomine for the people who live who live in the Cuckoofield Lane complex.

“I had stopped doing that but how could I refuse an offer like this,” said Chris, the former Norwich Art School pupil who has been a professional artist, whose work is so highly regarded, for many years.

The result is Cinderella – like you’ve never seen before. “We have had so much fun. We have a cast of about 14. Debbie is Cinderella and Gill Wheeler is the musical director,” said Chris, who also runs popular art classes at the village hall.

“The people of Hanover Gardens are the stars of the show. I admire them so much.

“They are brilliant and they prove you are never too old to take up a new challenge,” he added.

“The leading boy Dandini is played by Penny and she’s 86.

“And as for the ugly sisters, well, we have had so many laughs! They have all proved that age doesn’t matter.

“They all intend to get the best out of life – and this show illustrates that.

“They have accepted the challenge I threw at them – with real style,” he added.

There will be two performances of Cinderella on December 14. Both shows are sell-outs.

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