THE smell of greasepaint, the bustle of the costume department and the lastminute alterations to sets and props — backstage at any theatre can be an exciting place.

And during pantomime season that excitement is multiplied tenfold — oh yes it is!

There are six pantos set to be performed by amateur theatre companies across Bolton in the next two months.

And as rehearsals progress, behind the scenes at the panto is an interesting — and busy — place to be.

Terry Bowden, who has written and directs this year’s Halliwell Theatre Company production of Jack and the Beanstalk said: “It takes a lot of organisation. Luckily I have a decent team who do all the heavy work. I think the most important thing is that everybody enjoys it.

“The biggest challenge is getting the cast together, although luckily there are still a lot of people interested.

Pantos are still very popular in the Bolton area.”

Les Clarke has been stage manager at Trinity Church AODS’ pantomimes for the last eight years. He normally bans the director from being backstage on opening night, as it makes the rest of the crew nervous.

However for this year’s production of Red Riding Hood that will not be possible — as he is the director.

It is the first time Les has taken over the top job at the panto, and he says he could not have managed without having a good team to back him up.

“On the night it’s quite good fun,” he said. “Once you’ve got the sets sorted you can have a good time — the tension’s gone.”

Graham Cohen, who is directing another Jack and the Beanstalk, at St Paul’s Players, in Adlington, says the biggest challenge is making the show different to previous productions.

“I wanted different people — we’ve got a new dame — and choosing the right songs is key,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of pop songs that the kids will recognise, because there’s nothing worse than the moment when the principal boy and girl are singing a love song to each other and you see all the kids get up to go to the loo.”

Don't miss

à Jack and the Beanstalk — St Paul’s Players Adlington, Adlington Community Centre, Railway Road, Adlington, January 3 to 8.

Tickets: 01204 407784.

à Mother Goose — Victoria Hall ADS, Victoria Hall, Knowsley Street, Bolton, January 7, 8, 14, 15, 17, 21 and 22. Tickets: 0161 703 7570.

à Red Riding Hood — Trinity Church AODS, Trinity Methodist Church, Market Street, Farnworth, January 22 and 27 to 29. Tickets: 01204 578251.

à Jack and the Beanstalk — Halliwell Theatre Company, Harvey Street Methodist Hall, Harvey Street, Bolton, January 22, 26, 28 and 29. Tickets: 01204 597055.

à Snow White — Farnworth Performing Arts Company, Theatre Church, Seymour Road, Bolton, January 27 to 29. Tickets: 07507 269090.

à Sinbad the Sailor — St Simon and St Jude ADS, St Simon and St Jude School, Newport Road, Bolton, February 21 to 25.Tickets: 01204 520232.