AFTER a mighty 26 years of being involved in the Cirencester theatre scene, covering every role from writer, producer and actor, one woman plans to take a rest after this month’s pantomime.

Jan Woodrough currently directs the annual panto productions by the Phoenix Revue Company in Cirencester, but first started her career with the group as part of the chorus for a performance of Aladdin in 1987.

Now Jan is set to retire from her role after the company’s January performance of Puss in Boots at Bingham Hall in Cirencester. But after helping hundreds of disadvantaged children she leaves feeling totally rewarded.

Jan, 53, said: “The best part of it for me is helping kids with problems or who didn’t have much money to have had a chance to take part. It has helped them with life by giving them confidence and strength. That is the joy of it for me.

“My whole life has been the Phoenix Revue and the theatre but now I am going to have a rest. I need a break because my brain is not up to it.
“I have to admit that it needs some new input. I have had a stroke and it has been hard to get over.

“It saddens me because it has taken up 25 years of my life from August until January each year. I have done everything from sweeping the stage to selling tickets.”

The Phoenix Revue’s pantomime runs in January each year at Bingham Hall in King Street, Cirencester and Jan has been part of every production, putting on most pantomimes apart from The Snow Queen.

During her time with the group Jan has amassed countless happy memories, but says her personal highlight was when the group put on a performance of Oliver!

“The summer play of Oliver! was my personal favourite and I had a small part in it. If I had to single out one that would be my proudest moment. It had really good actors and all the children went on to perform in the Silent Owl Youth Theatre.”

As if her job heading Phoenix Revue was not enough, Jan also set up and ran Cirencester-based group the Silent Owl Theatre Group in 1998, which produced summer shows at the Barn Theatre in Cirencester until it folded in 2003.

And although Jan is stepping down the show must go on, and a replacement has been found in the shape of Amy-May Knowles, 17, from Cirencester, Cirencester’s Young Citizen of the Year in 2012.

Jan added: “Amy reminds me of myself when I was young. I don’t know what it is about her but she is really special.

“I will still be involved in the company but I will be more in the background after this year and will be doing smaller jobs. I won’t be letting go of my broom!”

Tickets for Puss in Boots, which runs from January 16 to January 18, are available from Cirencester’s Visitor and Information Centre in Park Street and cost £6.50.