Panto fairy’s smokey entrance sets fire bells ringing

Axminster mayor was amongst the audience evacuated when stage pyrotechnics set off the smoke detectors

AXMINSTER Mayor Andrew Moulding found himself in the middle of a real-life pantomime when he was a guest at a production of Beauty and Beast in Chard recently

The First Citizen and his wife had checked in their coats and were seated comfortably when they were told the Dame was ill and a member of Chard Amateur Theatre Society (CATS) would have to read out the part for the entire performance.

Then, things got much worse.

During the opening scenes the fairy arrived on stage, accompanied by a flash and puff of smoke, which set off the fire alarms and the packed hall – which included youth groups and civic VIPs - had to be evacuated.

Mr Moulding said they had to stand coatless outside in the freezing cold until the building was declared safe again.

“We had a chilly time in the car park,” he said.

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Chard Mayor Cathie Morrison saw the bright side. She said at least it proved the alarms were fully operational and their fire evacuation procedures worked well.