Report - Little
Waltham Memorial Hall.
Direction: The Pantomime was played throughout at a fast pace, allowing time out only for the laughter. This never allowed the audience to become restless, keeping their interest at all times. Director Penny White had obviously schooled her cast well for exits and entrances were kept strictly in character thus not destroying the illusion created on stage. Most of the fun that was not derived from the script could be credited to Penny who had added a great deal of 'business' for the characters to enact so keeping the audience laughing or booing. The actual casting of the pantomime was sound, the actors and actresses fitting the roles physically and giving all round convincing characterisations.
• Despite the limitations of the small stage Penny managed to get everyone on stage on several occasions with everyone able to be seen which was nothing short of a miracle. 'Blocking' the play must have caused the Director a major headache but everyone was in the right place at the right time .
There was a general feeling of unity and enjoyment amongst the cast which must have sprung from confidence in the Director for it is the Director who sets a warm and encouraging atmosphere for the cast to strive to achieve their best.
Musical Direction: The Musical Direction was under the able care of Keith Coleman on Piano. He was ably assisted by Jason Irving's Bass Guitar and the Lead Guitarist Adrian Hanlon. Percussion was supplied by Colin "Turner who
seemed to have strayed in from the 'Sleeping Beauty' recently up the road!
The opening music set the mood well and all the musicians whether playing or not seemed to be enjoying the production and their part in it.
The variety of songs from old to the more modern 'You can leave your Hat On' were well executed by the musicians conveying the right atmosphere. The percussion drum beat sound effects were well timed. I particularly liked the music for the entrance of Discord.
Vocals: Vocally the cast coped well with the wide variety of tunes, both comic and serious. Just one small point in the vocalisation that needed a little more attention was the number 'Not While We're Around'. Some of the chorus seemed to have a little difficulty reaching the highest notes in this tune. The 'Merrilee Walk' was tip-top.
scenery, designed by Tracy Hanlon and painted by
vegetation and by the wonderful coloured toadstools. Full marks for
this set. The 'Ballroom of Goose Grange' scenery achieved the necessary depth
via the black and white squared flooring. Also the chandelier gave the setting
the right feel of a moneyed property.
The pre-scene set in Fairyland was beautiful with its nicely draped effect, a fit background for us to tiptoe into the world of magic. Full marks there for a good start to the production.
The one disappointing piece of scenery was Mother Goose's Cottage. I know she was meant to be poor but her cottage looked like a garden shed. Even the addition of a little thatched roof (Dried Grass) and a horseshoe over the door and a fancy knocker might have helped. I could see there was no width to paint on a small curtained window but these suggestions would have helped. It jarred me every time someone went to knock at the door, as it was a focal point several times of moving the plot along.
The stage effects were suitably effective.
One word of caution to Stage Management the three step block used constantly throughout the production was far too narrow for safety. This was especially treacherous for the cast in long-skirts. I held my breath every time the cast tripped off in case they tripped up! An accident would have ruined the performance.
Lighting & Sound: The Lighting was good throughout the production, right place,
right time, right effect. The strobe lighting used specifically for the chase of Priscilla the Goose by Sage & Onions was effective. It was a pity that the chase was not extended a little longer to utilise more of the strobe effect. The lighting of the 'Witch's' Pool' set was also very good. All in the capable hands of David Newman and Follow Spot Helpers Tony Campen & Tony Davis.
Only limited Sound Effects were necessary apart from the contribution by Colin the Drummer but Sound generally was good, a pat on the back for Denis Franzen.
Make-Up: Making up all
those characters was in the capable hands of
there did not seem to be too many props to have to find but those that were required
fitted the bill. Perhaps it was just as well as Props Lady
Prompt: Kerry Campen was in that vexing job which no-one ever wants to do. Being 'On the Book' is a skilled job often unsung and with no applause at the end. The fact that I never heard her once does not mean what it would seem. Either the cast were word perfect or Kerry had her voice at the right decibel. However a clap for the many rehearsals she must have sat through.
What can be said about the costumes except 'Excellente?'
How many were made by
The School costumes were good and Priscilla was 'absolutely fab'. Well done costumiers.
In the 'Spell- break' dance of the Fairies a little more attention to the leaps was needed. If the fairies are not natural dancers then a simpler step could have been substituted. However the choreography in this number was good even though it came to a rather abrupt end.
Fairy Queen: Margaret Chung came over regally enough controlling her fairy
troupe with a quiet dignity . If anything perhaps a little more fairy like quality to the role could have been added but this may have been the fault of the script.
Harmony: Kim Markwood as the Chief Fairy sparkled whenever the need arose and was suitably dogged in her determination to rout Discord. Kim spoke clearly, her eyes shone and her body language was good. Also Kim looked as if she was enjoying the singing.
Discord: I certainly wouldn't have liked to meet this character as played by
Clarence Creep: This Jekyll & Hyde role was played magnificently by Peter Travell. His deliciously evil performance would have well graced the West End Stage. Every insinuation, every demand came not only from his lips but was reflected gloatingly in his eyes. You hated him yet like a magnet he drew you to him. His pairing with Mother Goose in the' You're the One that I Want' showed complete control over his body movement. An actor here with real 'Stage Presence'.
• Jill Goose: Laura Riches as principal love interest came as a nice surprise. So often these parts are given to the wrong type of girl. In Laura we had a nice, pretty, comely, country wench just waiting for the right man to come. She didn't need to strut her stuff because she just looked and acted the sort of clean-living, rosy cheeked , country girl that everyone had their eye on. She maintained her character throughout and the duet 'I Only Want To Be With You' came over with a suitably 'aah' factor, as also did their second duet following the Interval.
Peter: Principal Boy
Billy Goose: I think everyone
warmed to Billy as played by
Onions: The other partner in crime Richard Butler was Morecambe to Glyn's Wise! Together they were a perfect foil for each other. Richard on his own showed his own flair for comedy. At one stage in the School Scene I thought if he pulls his shorts up any higher we will have a Full Monty on stage! His quick repartee and holding of the character throughout was a pleasure to watch. Apart from chorus Richard's main singing was in the six group and this came over well. A good performance throughout.
Mother Goose: When Derek Gruender made his first appearance I thought 'quite good' but it wasn't long until the thoughts became, good, then excellent until his striptease and eventual chameleon like change had the whole audience including myself in stitches. The transformation scene when he swarmed on was a very , very difficult piece to play. How far or how little was Derek to go? He managed to judge it exactly right. I expect the bright idea
of British undies may have
been the Directors but the
Priscilla: Played by Priscilla? I couldn't make up my mind
whether it was a strong girl or a fella wielding that
Chorus: In most Pantomimes the Chorus can make or break the
slot in and out on a usually crowded stage, as 'twere
this case. They
have to be a character without having sometimes a single line to aid the role. They have to
sing well and move as instructed. In this production the chorus of fairies,
villagers, and school children succeeded admirably. Despite the crowded
conditions each one could be seen playing their individual role for all they were worth.
They vocalised a tad better than they danced altho' both genre did not disappoint. The chorus of Jim Bell, Toni Brooker, Pauline Burgess,
Front of House: Like the performance there was a good feel in the auditorium.
The welcome at the door seemed genuine and all the ticket holders were treated very much as V.I.P's The refreshments were varied and the queue was dispersed quickly. I felt the coming round of trayfuls of drinks, ices etc. was a good idea as there were a great deal of elderly people in the audience who may have found it irksome to try to queue. Because of this general feeling of bonhomie the audience were relaxed and able very quickly to enter into the spirit of the production. Front of house was handled very successfully by Eileen Metson assisted by Group Members and friends.
The Programme was nicely laid out and very
informative. I was pleased to see that the Strobe Lighting was clearly
indicated as this type of effect can have serious consequences on people
with conditions such as epilepsy. Also it was a good idea to advertise their next production
on the back sheet. The programme design was by
Summary: Little Waltham Drama Group should be well pleased with this production. It was done in the true spirit of Pantomime. There was the inclusion by the Group of topical references which caused quite
a laugh. There was no weak spot in Cast, Direction, Backstage Crew, or Technicians. The music was tuneful, and played not too loudly to deafen those sitting near to the musicians. The whole feel was of good cohesive teamwork and this was passed on to the audience.
I was surprised that there were so few (around 6) children in
the audience on
Tuesday but I understand the audience was packed with children on the Sunday
matinee. Despite this the audience became very involved which showed the
success of the whole team. Producer
good too to see
that many of the actors had rolled up their sleeves and got involved in various
other roles besides their thespian ones. This is al
I noticed there were not many young males in the acting cast. A pity for they don't know what fun they missed
Aleene Hatchard (Adjudicator) 18.1:02.