Space Trek a sci fi panto takes off tonight with Swindon’s Mr Panto Geoff Marsh at the helm.
Geoff and director of the panto, Jane Marie Osbourne, have been lynchpins of the Swindon local theatre scene for many years, encouraging budding actors, singers and dancers to tread the boards and gain in confidence. 
“Many have gone on to star in the Summer Youth Project, win places at drama schools or simply learn life skills,’’ he said.
Space Trek is a panto for the 21st century but it is also a family friendly, traditional festive feast.
“We were surprised that a sci fi plot made it even easier to do a traditional panto. It just gave us so much more scope for crazy characters and settings. It’s given us a chance to spoof and parody Star Trek, Star Wars, Doctor Who and so many more,’’ said Geoff.
It was at college that Geoff really learned his stage craft by teaming up with TV comedian Steve Spiers as a double act. When they graduated in 1985 the duo landed their first job with producer Charles Vance in a panto starring Barbara Windsor. 
In Dick Whittington that year were dancers from Swindon’s Tanwood School of Dancing, and among them was Jane, who later became Geoff’s wife and is now also his partner in producing pantos.
Space Trek the panto will be at the Swindon Arts Centre, Devizes Road, Old Town until tomorrow at 7pm nightly with a 2pm matinee on the Saturday.
Geoff said: “Space Trek The Panto, tells the stories of two sisters, seven-year-old Frankie Bets and 10-year-old Megan Smith, who stay up to catch Santa delivering presents. Unfortunately they are kidnapped by aliens, aka Alfie Jones and Andy Brown. 
“What follows is a chase across the universe as the children’s granny (played by me) and a Christmas elf (James Tayler), aided by a ragtag crew of astronauts and aliens, try to rescue the children and bring them back home.”
Jane said: “It has lots of audience participation, songs, and the hilarious comedy sketches audiences have come to expect from us.”
The story is perfect for youngsters brought up on Star Trek, Star Wars and The Transformers.
Tickets are £15 with concessions at £13 and available from or by calling the box office on 01793 524481 - Flicky Harrison