Theatre a hit after COVID-19

Mt Eliza’s Village Uniting Church and the local community came together to present ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ recently. Photo: Vickie Burt

By Cameron McAdam

The pantomime Jack and the Beanstalk recently finished a season in Mt Eliza, as part of a community engagement activity of the Village Uniting Church, Mt Eliza.

Back in 2019, a then group of church playgroup and church parents got talking about the possibility of doing a pantomime.

I had an amateur theatre background, the Mt Eliza and wider Peninsula community is full of immigrants from the UK, along with families and children, and the Church Council could see the benefits of being engaged in a community activity that, as its vision says in part, “builds community both within and beyond the church”.

In 2019 a great team came together, led by the church, to form Mt Eliza Community Pantomime, and that year the production was Aladdin.

There was energy to go again in 2020, but COVID-19 hit, and Jack and the Beanstalk was postponed. Despite several false starts and setbacks, it was finally performed recently to sell-out audiences.

Pantomime is a traditional English theatre production of a well-known story or fairytale, but unlike other theatre productions there’s loads of audience participation.

The audience is encouraged to yell and boo, the story and music are bright and fun, there’s traditional on-stage roles like a pantomime dame and it’s just a great two hours.

The church sees the pantomime as primarily outreach and community building. We love being at the heart of something that brings so much fulfilment and joy to those who participate and those who attend.

We talk about our aim being to bring life, and that goes for people involved and the audience.

The cast and crew are drawn from the church and wider community, and it is precisely in this mix of people that relationship is formed and opportunities for conversations about life and faith emerge.

Planning is already under way for a June 2023 production of Cinderella.

A new theatre family has formed, and the Village Church is at the centre of this energetic new group.

Rev Cameron McAdam is Minister at the Village Uniting Church, Mt Eliza


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