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Haverhill’s Centre Stage Company scoops Best Pantomime title at NODA 2023 Awards





Haverhill’s Centre Stage Company has added another award to its burgeoning trophy cabinet after its 2023 panto was named the best in the region.

Sleeping Beauty won the Best Pantomime Award 2023 in East District 7 at the NODA (National Operatic and Dramatic Association) Awards, which were held at Trinity Park in Ipswich, on Saturday.

East District 7 includes 17 drama societies located in Suffolk, Essex, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire.

James Player with the Best Pantomime 2023 NODA Award for District 7 which was won by Centre Stage Company for its production of Sleeping Beauty, which James wrote.Contributed picture
James Player with the Best Pantomime 2023 NODA Award for District 7 which was won by Centre Stage Company for its production of Sleeping Beauty, which James wrote.Contributed picture

Collecting the award for Centre Stage were the production’s director, Peter Dedman and its writer, James Player.

It was the first panto that James, 22, who lives in Haverhill, had written.

He said: “I was shaking with adrenalin because I wasn’t expecting it (the award), you know.

The Centre Stage Company attended the NODA Awards 2023, where it won the Best Pantomime in District 7 for Sleeping Beauty. The show was written by James Player (far left) and directed by Peter Dedman (second right).Contributed picture
The Centre Stage Company attended the NODA Awards 2023, where it won the Best Pantomime in District 7 for Sleeping Beauty. The show was written by James Player (far left) and directed by Peter Dedman (second right).Contributed picture

”When I won I literally punched my hand in the air and screamed.

”I was very excited and ecstatic.

”This is the first one that I have written and it won an award, which is amazing.”

Last January, James (then aged 21) became the youngest director in the history of Centre Stage when he took up the role for its panto, Robin Hood, which he also wrote.

Graeme Johnston as King Rupert, Theo Smith as Frankiie Cillin and Jason Andr� as Dame Penny Cillin in Sleeping Beauty, by the Centre Stage Company. Contributed picture
Graeme Johnston as King Rupert, Theo Smith as Frankiie Cillin and Jason Andr� as Dame Penny Cillin in Sleeping Beauty, by the Centre Stage Company. Contributed picture

The Centre Stage Company was joined on the shortlist of three for the best panto award by its near neighbour, Kedington-based The Ketton Players, which was nominated for its 2023 show, Aladdin.

Centre Stage was also a finalist in the Best Drama Award for Snake in the Grass.

The amateur dramatics company has won numerous NODA awards down the years, including Best Musical for Producers in 2016, Best Play for Frankenstein in 2014 and Vicar of Dibley in 2016 and the Best Set Design 2018 for Rapunzel.

Last year it won two awards for shows staged in 2022, winning the Best Youth Musical category for Bugsy Malone and the Best Young Performer award, which went to Theo Ogbhemhe-Smith for his portrayals of Fat Sam in Bugsy and Bill in Big - the Musical, a production put on by the Dunmow Players.