North West Essex Theatre Guild
Little Waltham Drama Group Friday January 19th 2007
Pantomime: ‘The Queen of Hearts’
Front of House
Having clipped out a write-up from the local paper, I was aware that the Memorial Hall would be a rather small building, in fact we almost ran past it, having had difficulty in parking, but limited space inside was obviously not a problem to the already happy and anticipating audience when we arrived. I could not believe the amount of milling around by all and sundry! However everyone settled down in time for the start of the show. We were made welcome and offered interval refreshment.
Set
I very much liked the playing cards each side of the proscenium arch and the storybook opening its pages throughout was lovely. Very well constructed and painted. The rainbow (scene 5) was truly beautiful. Congratulations all round.
Props
Quite a lot of large and small props, from mixing bowls and spoons to red herrings and Phoenix Bird tail feathers.
Well done to the props makers.
Stage Management
Obviously a good team, a vital factor for any show.
All changes were smoothly achieved.
Lighting
Impressive for such a small venue with very good use of follow spots and effects.

Sound
Some splendid sound effects, all on cue. Timing is so important. Well done, it all adds to the fun of the show.
Costumes
Really splendid.
I note several suppliers and your own wardrobe. All costumes superbly in keeping with the characters. Attention to detail was obvious. How sad to have lost Iris Morely. Experts in this field are rare.
Musical Direction
Excellent singing from the chorus, clear diction throughout.
From where I was seated, I was unable to see the small orchestra, but it was obvious the drummer enjoyed himself! All musical numbers were very well put over, with special mention for Over The Rainbow and If I Ruled The World. Really delightful solo voices. Nobody Loves A Fairy is one I have sung many times and it was fun to hear someone else!
Direction
Pantos are meant to be fun and enthusiasm certainly poured over us from all on stage. Despite limitations of space every inch was used without masking anyone, and disciplined moves provided the overall high standard. Every chorus member acted and reacted throughout. Congratulations.
Choreography
Chorus moves were very good and two delightful young ladies gave us some effective routines, particularly in their grass skirts!
Cast
With such a huge cast, I shall have to keep comments to a minimum, but suffice to say that since becoming an Adjudicator for the Theatre Guild, I have become aware that Essex is truly brimming with talent in many directions.
Chaser Ace
Splendid Sherlock Holmes costume. I see from the script that the character talks with an American accent – I’m not sure why, but I would be fascinated to know if Linda Burrow is in fact a genuine American – if not, congratulations on a faultless accent. A great part to act and to watch. This character tied up all the loose ends of this convoluted story, dashing in and out at appropriate moments. Well played!
Rumbaba, Queen of Hearts
Good clear diction and confident characterisation. I would have liked to see her wearing a pretty wig as her fringe of natural hair tended to cover her eyes and therefore lost some facial expression.
Heartburn, King of Hearts
Very much under the thumb of his wife, but still with an eye for the girls.
Not easy to deliberately underplay a part. Well done!
Blackheart, The Knave
A minor ‘baddie’ part, but well played. In that wig (given a hump on his shoulder) Jim could play King Richard III!
Koff / Schniff
A splendid duo.
Definitely the funny ‘men’ of the show. Both extremely well played with Schniff showing great stage presence and natural comic talent.
Boy Blue, Red Riding Hood, Dick Whittinton and Snow White
Four very important leading characters who hold the thread of the story. Costumes were excellent. Each played their part with conviction and were a joy to watch. I felt pretty Snow White had stepped right out of Disneyland!
Fairy Snow
A more unusual fairy than is normal even for pantomime. More than a touch of Dawn French! Good performance, making the most of the role, encouraging the audience participation.
Demon Gumboil
Delightfully evil.
A foil to Fairy Snow. I think Glyn has played a ‘baddie’ in previous pantos judging by his relaxed attitude towards the audience (which they loved). As he says ‘I’m no second class demon’. Well done.
Good Ship Lollipop A good dance routine.

Widow Twankey
A female Dame part, well that’s different. Certainly unusual for a Dame to be pretty! Very well acted withgood rapport with the audience. Great costume and headdress.
Hook
A fiery performance as required by someone wearing a huge hook on the end of his arm. A very good stage presence and fierce enough to subdue some of the younger audience in the front row! Well done.
Smee
A suitably subservient performance.
Well played.
Paddy
I must confess, this is a character I couldn’t fit in, even for the bomb and half a page of script. However, a good costume and the Irish accent.
Man Friday
A small part.
The character apparently trying out a Caribbean accent. Not quite wild enough for a wild man.
Robinson Crusoe
According to the script ‘ a lleft over from last year’s pantomime’ so did he wear anaval uniform then? Personally I tend to visulaise Crusoe in a goat skin hat and tunic. That said I felt the characterisation was a little lifeless.
Dick Whittington
‘I’m shy’ Very nicely sung.
Ali Baba
A small part but very well played. Almost an amusing touch of Leslie Phillips somehow.
A great SAND DANCE. (Wilson, Kepple and Betty for those of us in our ‘Autumn Years’!)
Abanazar
Certainly a change from Captain Hook.
A good song, ‘I’m the Master Here’ amnd good sound effects of thunder, etc.
Genie
A good impersonation of Ali G, giving Matthew something to get his teeth into and enjoy.
Mine Keeper
A pun making character, involving the inevitable ‘It’s behind you!’ from the audience. Well played and beautifully sung.
Wishing Well Scene
Our four heroes in a good coin swapping routine. Well done.
Phoenix Birds
Good ‘sister’ routine and delightfully gaudy costumes and feathers.
Happy Song
Good audience participation song.
What a wonderful ‘whistle’ from Chaser Ace!
Finale
Very good.
‘Friends’ and ‘Happiness’ with smiling faces on stage and throughout the audience. Well done!
To Sum Up
When I read the script so kindly sent to me, I felt sure I would spend the whole evening in utter confusion. How could all these characters from other Nursery Rhymes or Pantomimes keep the thread of the Queen of Hearts storyline? Well, there you are – It’s my first visit to this talented group or I would have known better!!
Finally
To return to your programme – I found it very interesting to read the pages devoted to Panto history. I myself had researched quite a lot, two years ago, based on Pantomime Dames, when lecturing at the NODA Summer School. Such is its fascination, I was even able to make-up (as Dames) two of the Opera and Grand Opera ‘students’ – both elderly gentlemen, who loved it! I do so agree that pantomime can be important to a child in this computer-game world. There is not enough magical childhood for children these days. Thank you for a very enjoyable and interesting evening.
Very sincerely

Janet M. Crass