THE AWARD winning Highcliffe Charity Players are to celebrate their 50th birthday in suitably with ‘Treasure Island'.

The summer panto has been specially written and is to be shown at the Regent Centre in Christchurch from Thursday, July 29, to Saturday, July 31.

Profits from the performances will go to local charities, and front-line workers and their families are being offered reduced-price tickets of £9.99 on the opening night.

Returning to direct, and continue the family tradition, is Matthew Smith, whose late father, Tony Smith, co-founded the Players in 1971 and was their renowned Dame for 25 years.

Matthew said: “Fifty years ago a group of parents, including my dad, got together to put on a show to raise money for a local dancing school.

“The show was a success, the money was raised, the performers had as much fun as the audience and Highcliffe Charity Players was born.

“I’ve proudly seen the company grow from strength to strength and delight panto-goers over generations, first at St Mark’s Hall in Highcliffe, and then from 1986 at the Regent Centre.”

This fast-moving one-act adventure sees courageous hero Jim, his feisty girlfriend Felicity and outrageous mother Ma Hawkins embark on a quest for buried treasure.

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But they are pursued by the treacherous Long John Silver and his band of pirates, who are determined to have the treasure all for themselves.

The summer panto comes after the Highcliffe Charity Players’ Christmas pantomime was cancelled for a second year in a row.

Matthew’s wife, the players' chairman, Georgina Smith added: “We were, of course, disappointed not to be able to perform our annual Christmas panto because of lockdown but feel privileged and excited to be the first live show back at the Regent in July.

“We chose ‘Treasure Island’ as it is the perfect sea-side, summer adventure.

“And we are fortunate to have our own resident writer, Stephen Hutt, to create a script specially for us, full of the amusing contemporary touches and topical references that local family audiences so enjoy.”

‘Treasure Island’ runs at the Regent Centre for four performances, including a Saturday matinee, from July 29 to July 31.

Tickets at priced at £13.50 and £12.50 for concessions, with key workers able to attend for £9.99 on July 29 only.

Tickets at the centre box office and online at