AFTER two years of waiting, a community theatre was able to bring people together under the same roof once again for an evening of pantomime.

The Harraby Theatre in Carlisle was unable to present its Cinderella panto to members of the community last Christmas, but carried its show over to this year for three days of shows.

Crowds came back in healthy numbers to watch showings of Cinderella from Friday, December 10, to Sunday, December 12.

A long-running tradition across the country, panto has proved to be a well-loved form of festive escapism – allowing communities to forget their troubles and share a laugh at one or two in-jokes.

Crowds delighted in seeing this return according to Harraby Theatre centre manager, Liz Jackson, who said this years event felt extra special.

"We had a brilliant time," said Liz.

"We have had such lovely feedback from people and it has been really nice – and better than we expected.

"Christmas is always a big event and because of last year and the fact that families couldn’t get out together, I think that might have made this year’s panto more special.

"We have had such positive feedback and we have actually sold over 200 tickets for next years pantomime."

The panto brought the community together in more ways than simply drawing familiar faces under the same roof for a few shows once again, as Liz said the whole process of preparing for the weekend was a neighbourhood-wide team effort.

People in the area got stuck in with creating and painting the set, and instead of relying on professional performers, Liz said the cast was also made up of members of the community.

Even the play itself was written by a member of the cast.

She added: "It is a community event, definitely.

"The show was all relevant to Carlisle and Harraby, to local shops and people that those in the audience would be able to recognise. We have been very lucky."

As the curtains come down on another year at the Harraby Theatre, Liz and her team are looking to the future with more positivity, despite fears over the growing number of Covid-19 cases.

She said: "We have got a programme for next year and we just have to wait and see. If we go back to social distancing, we can do that and we can follow all the government guidelines with mask wearing and having sanitizer.

"That’s all we an do and hope that people feel comfortable to come out."