www.barrowvoice.co.uk - First Publised 1975
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Little Mice with Loads of Talent

In Barrow Panto’s Cinderella, everybody loved the mice. They didn’t have much to say - mice usually don’t - but when they did, they projected their voices well, when they danced, they danced beautifully and all their songs were pitch-perfect. Such talented mice needed further serious investigation. Did they like cheese for example? How did they feel about cats? So off I went in search of pretty, grey, tutu-wearing rodents with large, sparkly, silver ears.

First one to scurry into my trap was Poppy Melton, 10, from Loughborough. Poppy absolutely loved being a mouse but dreams of being Matilda! And she’s working towards this by dancing three times a week with the Tutu Dance Studio and having singing lessons. In fact it was through her singing teacher she learnt of Barrow’s Youth Theatre. She joined in 2015; was in Honk and The Little Mermaid and so quite an old paw by the time Cinderella came around. When asked about funny things that had happened in the show her whiskers quivered when she admitted to once arriving a little late on stage. Cinderella was perplexed. “Where’s the third mouse?” she asked. But another mouse, Rosie, jumped to the rescue and said, “She’s on vacation. She’s always on vacation.” Then Poppy appeared - quickly - back from her vacation! The scene she enjoyed playing the most was making the audience laugh by looking oddly quizzical at a huge set of keys she’d been given by the Fairy Godmother; her humble scooter had been transformed into a golden coach. And does she like cheese? No, not at all, very strange for a mouse, but true to form she is allergic to cats!

I found a second mouse much nearer to home in a very new mouse-hole in Barrow. Lucy Hardy, 11, doesn’t like cheese either, unless it’s grated on top of beans, and again - straying from timehonoured mouse characteristics - she loves cats! She actually shares a house with a rather grumpy-looking one called Frank Arthur Batman Hardy. Like Poppy, Lucy has ambitions beyond the horizon of a skirting-board as she too dreams of musical theatre in the West End. And at only eleven she’s already lots of experience. She’s been a member of the Youth Theatre since she was seven and appeared in The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, The Little Mermaid, and Honk as well as panto productions of Aladdin and Snow White. What’s more, she practices all the necessary theatre skills with singing, dancing and piano lessons and theatre school on Sundays in Loughborough. They’re such busy mice! Lucy was very proud of being involved with Ellie Robinson in choreographing part of one of the dances. One of Lucy’s favourite days is the all-day dress rehearsal when costumes are tried on for the first time and of course she loves the after-show parties. All the mice loved the parties, especially the discos after the Youth Theatre shows.

To find the final mouse I had to cross the county line and search East Leake for this lithe, athletic mouse. Rosie McGoldrick, 10, learnt about Barrow’s Youth Theatre from Abi Crossley, her East Leake Dance Club teacher, who spotted her dancing talent and from this everything else followed. Rosie was in the chorus in Honk but Cinderella was her first panto. And mum Laura was in it too which Rosie found helpful as she was always around to provide snacks or bottles of water. Mice do get hungry although this one doesn’t like cheese either! It makes her feel sick unless melted on top of a pizza or lasagne. Being a young mouse Rosie thought adult panto might be a bit scary but it wasn’t at all. She enjoyed mixing with the cast and thought Lucifer (Val Gillings) really lovely and Dandini (Alex Thompson) very funny. Her favourite day was Saturday as they were on stage twice! The afternoon show was the best, she thought, as the jokes got bigger laughs. Mice love a good laugh. There’ll be more laughs for Rosie in the future as she’s in the next East Leake Amateur Players’ production of ‘The Baddams Family’. That sounds great fun but her ambition is not to be an actress, but a singer. Many thanks mice! I thought you were wonderful in the show and now, after meeting you all, I think you’re even more amazing.

Gaynor Barton