SHOWCASE FESTIVAL 2008 – 9
Little Waltham Drama Group
Little Waltham Memorial Hall
Date of Adj.
24th January 2009
Set in a charming village hall and one was immediately struck by the small size of the hall; nevertheless inside there was a real community atmosphere. With a full house, a great family atmosphere and plenty of young audience all excitedly chatting.
We were warmly greeted by the front of house team, including coffee brought to us during the interval. Our seats had been assigned, we had a good view of the whole stage, and we thank you for that. The programme was printed on good quality paper and packed full of interesting information, with a friendly word from both chairman and director. How good to have a picture of each member of the cast, this was great in helping me try to identify the characters is this group.
The sets had obviously been designed to achieve the maximum space available. With a section of stage in front of the main curtain, at a lower level, allowing for interesting groupings to be achieved. The main stage, slightly higher, was dressed with an impressive number of painted backdrops denoting the changing scenes. These were very well and imaginatively painted, adding colour and a great sense of perspective to each set, especially the grand staircase in the palace. The side and fly curtains also helped to create perspective. In the palace scene where the princess lay asleep the addition of overgrown foliage would have been a good effect and it was a pity this had not been achieved.
There were very few personal props required for this production. The stage props were well chosen, especially the full size spinning wheel, integral to the story. The bed for Princess Rose covered with white cloth and a variety of foliage was very effective.
good general cover throughout. Spots
were used during the show, and these were well positioned and constantly moved
with the actors. A number of specials,
the glitter ball created just the right effect whenever the three fairies came
on stage, cleverly changing to red when Carrabosse entered. The timing for all of these was confidently
crisp in execution. There was also a
very charming and evocative lighting and smoke effect for both the spinning
wheel scene and when Princess Rose lay asleep.
The lights dimmed whenever Carrabosse was on stage, this gave the right
amount of menace and mystery to her character and enhanced the red aspect, however, this also meant that it became difficult to focus
on the stage. It would have been less
tiring on the eye if the lights had been raised once her scenes had got under
accompaniment can greatly enhance this type of production; this three-piece
band accompaniment was very impressive.
All three musicians produced good quality music at just the right level,
not to overwhelm the performers. We both
particularly liked the various percussion sounds used to highlight individual
jokes. These were really well timed and
added greatly to the comedy within the production. I particularly liked the different
Obviously a lot of thought had gone into the overall look and style of this show. Colours were chosen to blend together, whilst at the same time the style of each costume clearly showed the actor’s character, to the extent that Prince Valliant’s costume suggested the required 100 years into the future. The change of costume for the chorus to start the second half created the right look, they were colourful and equally well coordinated. The Dame’s costumes were just right; I particularly liked the ‘cake’ dress. Wigs and make-up were well chosen and successfully managed to enhance a required look. I really believed my favourite fairy stories had stepped out of the pages of my own storybook and on to the stage; it captured the look of so many traditional pictures. I even thought I saw the caricatures from a set of playing cards depicted in the King and Queen. Well done to all.
We were not
sure about the modern costumes including the colourful leotard worn by Rupert
Roger, it did strike a discordant note with the other costumes, but that may
have been the director’s decision. They
created colour and interest, but this could have been achieved without breaking
The ball scene was nicely handled and the chorus opening of the second half with the villagers in their pretty costumes was simple yet effective. Choreography for the songs performed by other members of the cast was put together well. Their moves were nicely in time with the rhythm and relevant to the theme of each song. The cast had been well rehearsed making the execution of each number polished and fluid.
A really lively and engaging chorus group, they all moved on and off stage efficiently and created interesting groups in stage. The chorus sung their first song, ‘The Night They Invented Champagne’, with gusto and collectively created a strong and pleasing sound. Most members of the chorus smiled, creating a good feeling of fun and pleasure, but there still remained a few who could have given their smiles even more emphasis to really lift the look.
Fairy Good -
What a lovely opening to the show these three actresses presented. I have to appraise them as a group, as they worked so well together, yet even so managed to portray their individuality very well. They presented their dialogue with confidence and clarity, not shy to come forward. Good facial expressions added to our understanding of their dialogue, especially Fairy Nuff, who brought out the comedy in her part very well. Nice ensemble playing.
Shout - Ken Little
This was a
fine double act, with both actors working well off one another. Ken was perhaps a little quieter; he attacked
his part and presented some good facial expressions, but did not al
King Cedric - Brian Corrie
Queen Beatrice -
Once again we were presented with a double act, the King and Queen vying off one another every time they came on stage.
The King presented a doting father, not quite with it all the time. Brian looked every inch the archetypal pantomime King; he had a really engaging smile and the perfect look in his wig and beard. Brian’s portrayal was softer making the casting for this part spot on as he created a good foil for Queen Beatrice.
Queen Beatrice had amazing facial expressions and a laugh that stayed in my memory long after I went home. I was impressed with her total concentration and commitment whenever she was on stage; she remained in character no matter what happened around her. Her expressions and gestures were well timed, never missing an opportunity to add that little something to enhance her dialogue. She created a good rapport with the audience with a few adlibs that demonstrated her comfort on stage.
Andy played up to the camp side of this portrayal, which suited his style. He had a rather soft voice, which at times made it hard for us to hear him. He seemed a little nervous to start, but got into his stride as the play progressed. It was right that he quitted himself with the mic. for his song, which he performed well, suddenly bursting on to the stage, almost another character altogether, he certainly let rip with the rock theme!
From the moment Mike entered he stamped his own style on this part. He spoke out clearly, and pointed up the humour very well. His make-up and hair were just right for the part, and his tall stature only served to add value to the humour in this portrayal. This was a well rehearsed and timed performance, which created the very essence of a pantomime dame. His interactions with Percy were amongst the funniest moments in the show. Well done.
inspiration from the character of Jim Trott, in the TV series ‘The Vicar of
Dibley’, Richard stumbled and cajoled his
Jenny carried herself with such style and looked lovely. She has a beautiful voice, and enunciated her words well; deliciously curling her tongue round the dialogue and with her exaggerated movement she created the very essence of the wicked fairy. Well done
not only the look of a princess she also acted with style. She delivered her lines with confidence and
her expressions were a delight. She
created the perfect princess, especially the lovely blond curly hair, and she
carried us a
Maddie played the pantomime card to the full (I had begun to wonder when the ‘thigh slap’ would appear). She presented a strident principle boy character, but at times she needs to deliver her dialogue with a little more energy and expression, some of her lines lost their impact through a slight hesitant manner in delivery. Nevertheless, she has a good stage presence and achieved a convincing princely manner.
Not only the stage, the whole auditorium was used to good effect. Running in and out of the various doors around the room worked well and constantly brought the show out to us. The actors encourage us to respond, just stopping short of being annoying. But this worked because the whole cast appeared to be in control and at ease with us. In addition there was a great feeling of community and team spirit amongst the cast. The principle characters were well defined and comically over the top in there presentation. I have to congratulate the director on ensuring that even the less experienced members of the cast had courage to step up to the mark and deliver with certainty and confidence.
and energy was good throughout. The set
pieces of comedy had been well rehearsed.
The blocking was cleverly worked out, and I enjoyed the
The set served the actors well, allowing for maximum room on the small stage. We had a good view from where we were sitting of both the spinning wheel and the make shift bed, which had been set on a rostra. But I did wonder if all the audience had the same clear view. I felt that the bed could have been a little higher to allow all to see her asleep as this scene was very pretty and the lighting particularly effective. We both felt it was a pity that more had not been done to create the overgrown foliage in the palace especially as the hand with the sword had been introduced so well, but once it had been retrieved there was no evidence of its use to free the princess.
The songs had been well chosen to enhance the story and simple enough in execution not to overwhelm any of the cast. The musicians interacted well with the storyline, pointing up the humour at every opportunity.
The only area that stepped out from the otherwise traditional style, for a few of the numbers, was the introduction of modern costumes. We had been given such clear guidelines on all we had been watching, been well seduced into a very traditional pantomime style and with so much attention to detail and period in the rest of the show, my colleague and I felt this modern element did not sit comfortably. If this production had not been so tight and disciplined in all other respects, introducing modern costumes would have blended without a sense of imbalance and contradiction.
The comedy element of this production came across consistently. Everyone seemed to have been well drilled in how to put across both funny dialogue and comical movement. Attention to body language was impressive, this is an area that can so often is missed. The very clever devise of Percy getting struck behind or in front of the curtains set us up beautifully for ghost joke. The ghost bumping into the wall was hilarious, very unexpected, and a comedy moment I will remember for a long time.
times I felt the comedy was presented at the expense of the romance of the
show, which was the fairy story of the Prince and Princess. We only saw them for a short time together
and this had not been so well developed between the two actors as some of the
comedy duos. I cannot recall that they had been given a special piece of music
to enhance the romance and that would have been nice too. Not seeing the prince hack his
This was a colourful and extremely funny traditional pantomime. From the start of this production there was an air of confidence and surety from the cast and musicians about presenting a pantomime. The whole show was constantly and effectively geared to include us all in the fun.
This production did not necessarily over-run, however the first half was a little long. Personally, I would have preferred to not have the modern songs and costume changes and concentrate on building more into the romance of the story.
My colleague, who already knew the script, pointed out a number of changes, perhaps to allow for some individual creative elements. There was certainly something for everyone to enjoy, from the older members of the audience to the young ones. I laughed a lot, as did all of us. I was impressed with this group for their well-rehearsed and well-timed physical comedy, and in particular their ability to include the whole audience in the fun of the show. Everyone looked as though they were enjoying every moment (with zany characters and physical humour I can only imagine what fun rehearsals must have been!), and this created the right atmosphere for us all to let go and enjoy watching them perform.
There was a real community spirit emanating from all concerned.