THERE is something quite impressive about being nominated for two awards for two different productions when you only do two productions a year.

And this was the enviable situation the PODS (Pershore Operatic and Dramatic Society) found themselves in this year: both their pantomime Aladdin and their musical West Side Story were nominated in The National Operatic and Dramatic Association (NODA) West Midland’s awards.

Even better, they took home the award for best pantomime - a credit, many must think, to the steady pair of hands at the helm: director Eric Jones.

And it has to be said, it was an incredibly steady pair of hands.

Mr Jones is no newcomer to directing amateur productions. Indeed, he has more than 50 years experience in the field.

“I’ve done everything from village hall plays to a royal charity gala at the Albert Hall for Save the Children - and everything in between,” Mr Jones said.

Now retired, it’s clear theatre has been a passion from an early age.

Mr Jones directed his first panto aged 19 and, in his last job as a teacher, he directed 27 school plays in just nine years.

So it’s fair to say, he knew what he was doing when it came to putting together Aladdin and the judges clearly agreed.

One described it as “a sparkling production which kept audiences laughing throughout the evening”, adding actor “Steve Miller’s Wishee Washee giving us one of the best ‘drunk’ scenes I have ever witnessed”.

“I’m not sure what made it stand out,” said Mr Jones, who won an award for his outdoor production of the Canterbury Tales in 2008. “It was just exquisitely funny. There were beautiful and colourful costumes and lots of fabulous music. And Aladdin himself was excellent.”

But those who find their appetite has been wet for PODS next panto are in for a bit of a wait: the next one won’t be until 2013 - although this, according to Mr Jones, is one of the strengths of the group.

The next production is The Merry Widow in just a few weeks, followed by The Slipper and the Rose in December and Singin’ in the Rain the next June.

“PODS is an eclectic society,” Mr Jones explained. “If you work backwards you can see that: Aladdin, West Side Story and Toad of Toad Hall.

“It is just a lovely society with a lot of local credibility.”

- The Merry Widow is at Pershore Number 8 from Monday, June 6, until Saturday, June 11.

Tickets, which cost between £9 and £12.50, are available by calling 01386 555488.