URMSTON Musical Theatre has avoided paying royalties on its popular pantomime, Sleeping Beauty, by employing a team to give ideas to writer and director Ian Darke.

Ian’s wife, Pamela, has helped, as have John Walker, David Mellor and his daughter, Rachel and Anita Partridge.

Ian, 59, said: “We started with the basic story and added characters. I put it together and then went back to them every two or three weeks.”

Ian discovered several publications which advised on writing pantomimes.

He said: “One in particular, was very useful because it suggested that panto music should be a selection of older, family songs, rather than modern pop music.

“For example, when the Prince and Princess get married, they are accompanied by the Prince of Denmark’s March. There are also sing-along songs for the kids.”

In Ian’s plot, the good fairy is only a trainee so the wicked one, Grimhilda, has the upper hand but the good fairy manages to stop her from killing the princess.

She is played by 14-year-old IsabelleMead and her mother, the Queen, by Isabelle's real mother, Sally.

Two other children play her as she is growing up.

Ian said: “We have Dotty and the Jester as the comedy characters and the King and Queen appear on all major occasions.

“We have introduced a new character, a Town Crier who is, in effect, the narrator.”

“Most of the dancing is done by the chorus. They are led by trained dancers who do one scene on their own.

“The cast’s ages range from six to over 70.

“We hope to write another panto soon.”

* Sleeping Beauty is at Urmston Leisure Centre, Bowfell Road, Urmston from February 13 to 17th with two Saturday matinees.

For tickets telephone 0161 408 1288 or visit umt.org.uk.