Adult Panto
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Produce your own Rugby Club Panto

 Income generation and community engagement

In 2008 Lymm RFC made £25k from their annual panto (…oh yes they did!) and Chester Rugby Club made £11k in their first attempt.

At a time when many clubs are feeling the chill from the credit crunch it is heartening to see how two clubs are generating serious amounts of money whilst engaging everybody within their clubs and the rest of their communities.

Since 1986 Lymm RFC has been running its annual Adult Panto which has grown into an institution and now the club has eight sell-out performances in front of almost 1,500 people.

Simon Plumb, scriptwriter and Panto impresario, says: "We are a community-based club and it's an inclusive show with high levels of audience participation. You could be visiting from Australia and still have a great night. In fact our overseas guests are increasing as Lymm Panto's world fame spreads!

"I also believe it is the cheeky, rugby club-style humour, combined with live performance, which seems to hit the spot for so many people, no matter what age or social standing. The audience know they can come along and really let go.

"The amateur performers, including players, members and WAGS, live band and earthy, music-hall bawdiness combine wonderfully, to give a night of almost constant laughter. It's a phenomenon really but I believe any club could do this!" added Simon.

The Panto has been instrumental in the club’s fundraising efforts for its Lymm Grass Roots Sports Appeal (£700k in 3 years!) and when Chester RFC were looking for a fundraising initiative they turned to Simon Plumb at Lymm who helped them produce and launch their first production of “Jack and His Giant Beanstalk”. The show ran for the first time over three weekend nights in the clubhouse in November 2008.

In excess of 850 people paid £12.50 each to come and watch members of their club including teammates, coaches, Director of Rugby, kitchen staff, veterans, Club Chairman, first team players, wives, girlfriends, parents and friends in a completely new light.

Tom King, Coach of Chester RFC Under 15s explains:
“All but two of the cast were “stage virgins” and nerves were certainly evident as the curtain rose on the first night, but the overwhelming feeling of goodwill that spilled from the audience and on to the stage, gave everyone all the encouragement they needed.

In the end I’m not sure whether the audience or the cast enjoyed it the most – although the standing ovations we received on all three nights probably swung it the way of the audience!

The initial aim was achieved - we made a fantastic sum of money but that is only half the story. The effort put in and the fun had by so many, cemented old friendships as well as forged new ones and really made everyone in the club feel part of a very special group – oh, and we had an absolute ball in the process.”

Simon Plumb is now offering other clubs the opportunity of running their own Adult Panto where he will provide scripts, a ‘How to produce your own Adult Panto’ manual and ongoing support in return for a small percentage of the ticket sales.

Published in Rugby World Magazine
March 2009

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