Adjudication Report - Little Waltham Drama Group
'Mother Goose'
15.1.2002
at
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.

 

Stage Management: Ian Thorpe and Stage Crew Gill Haysham & Graham Pipe are to be congratulated on the smooth running of the Stage Management right throughout the performance. The measurements of the Stage being what they were must have allowed little space for manoeuvring anything in the wings, and for the changing of the sets. It was interesting the use of the decorated flats at Stage Left and Right thus creating for the audience a feeling of width to the individual settings. When lit these again added much to the setting on stage.

2)

The scenery, designed by Tracy Hanlon and painted by Tracy with the aid of Mike Lee, Richard Butler, & Michele France, was interesting with the Village setting adding depth to the viewing audience. Full marks for the Witch's Pool set. I was intrigued and totally taken in by the convincing

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 Marea Irving & June Newman. Everyone looked absolutely right including the two faces of Mother Goose. Well done ladies. A minor point but in the first scene Jill Goose appeared to have quite shortish hair when in no time at all (Scene 4) she had very long tresses. This worried me slightly even given the passage of time?

3)

Props: Fortunately 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 Kathy Jiggins was also in charge of Box Office. Large props - including, I assume, the attractive 'Censored' Board were constructed by Tony Davis. The golden eggs were magnificent and the mirror looked just right.

 

 

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.

 

Costumes: What can be said about the costumes except 'Excellente?' How many were made by June Franzen & Pauline Burgess is unknown to me but as many Pantomimes have been held over the years I assume that there must be a certain costume stockcupboard somewhere. But they were absolutely right. I loved the male villagers' costumes giving the males the right rural look. Mother Goose was suitably garish on each appearance and her costume change from old woman to slinky femme fatale was one of the high lights of the production. Though I wish her red and white striped stockings had been replaced with some see through 15 denier. Putting Discord in such a vivid red was in very good contrast to the white, ivory looking fairies and in good contrast too of style. The change from poor to richer apparel for all & sundry was very good too.

The School costumes were good and Priscilla was 'absolutely fab'. Well done costumiers.

 

Choreography: Catherine Bell had a difficult job to choreograph the Group numbers on the small stage but she managed to achieve good groupings with the limited amount of moveable-in space. Catherine made excellent use of hand and arm movements to create interesting patterns within the Group numbers.

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.

 

INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCES.

 

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.

4)

Discord: I certainly wouldn't have liked to meet this character as played by

Susan Butler. This devious member of the Fairy Clan schemed devilishly revelling in her misbehaviour. She deserved the hisses and boos she got as she had developed a good extrovert characterisation. I only hope she didn't strain her voice with that exultant burst of hideous laughter on her every exit. A well maintained performance.

 

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 Catherine Bell was suitably convincing as the main love interest. She gave a strong, determined aspect to the role which was obvious from the minute of her first entrance. Catherine vocalised well with her Jill and without too much lovey-dovey conveyed the affection between them and the protection she bestowed on her beloved. This was achieved despite the fact that she was cast later than the others and also had the responsibility of choreographer as well. A generally good performance.

 

Billy Goose: I think everyone warmed to Billy as played by Mike Lee. A lovable buffoon, an overgrown schoolboy, with no malice not even in his little finger. Even in his tirade at his mother he seemed sorry to be hurting her. His main singing was in the sextet 'Oh You Beautiful Doll' where he vocally managed well yet still retaining the character. His stage falls in the School Scene were executed well - not an easy thing to make look natural. A good all round performance.

 

Sage: Glyn Jones as one of the two dastardly pair, always on the make and not caring who they worked for to get it, came across well. His comic patter routine with Onions was delivered at a swift pace and their antics caused much of the laughter. There was a lot of stage business involved and Glyn achieved this successfully. Vocally sound as well.

5)

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 way he flung them over to the seductive music was a hoot. The vocal 'You're the One that I want' with Clarence was very good, the slapstick comedy coming off very well. The Dame is hard to play but Derek did what all good Dames should do -- he revelled in it. Well done. That cheeky look will remain in my mind for sometime to come.

 

Priscilla: Played by Priscilla? I couldn't make up my mind whether it was a strong girl or a fella wielding that wayward bird: Whoever it was they managed it superbly. The waddle was right, the moves were emotive, conveying the right impression for our sympathy. The audience loved Priscilla and how on earth did those flipper feet manage those narrow stairs. Well done that bird whoever you were.

 

Chorus: In most Pantomimes the Chorus can make or break the performance. They 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, Linda Burrow, Sue Jones, Claire Campers, Pat Campers, Julie Cole, Jackie Crane, Michele France, Tracy Hanlon, Gill Haysham, Alastair Irving, Marea Irving, Wendy Padbury-Clark, Paul Scott, & Richard Thomas looked as if they were really enjoying it and because of this the audience caught their enthusiasm and enjoyed their contribution too.

6)

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 Pat Campen and printed by Ian Thorpe.

 

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 Tony White must have been very happy with the result of all the hard work that had obviously gone into this very good production. It was

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 always a healthy sign for any Group.

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.